Bernie Ecclestone cut a careworn figure in the Barcelona paddock at the weekend, as the sport’s chief executive clings to F1 power.
The 83-year-old had travelled to Spain on Saturday almost direct from Munich, where on Friday he sat in court and listened to the testimony of Gerhard Gribkowsky, the jailed banker he allegedly bribed.
Some predict diminutive Briton Ecclestone will soon join Gribkowsky behind bars, and in Spain some sources reported that the F1 ‘supremo’ has seemed tired and without his usually mischievous and jovial mood in past weeks.
Perhaps he is just busier than ever, juggling his management of F1 with the Munich proceedings.
He could not, for example, simply skip the Spanish grand prix, as he met with almost every single F1 race promoter in Barcelona, including representatives from Russia, where the Sochi race is reportedly endangered over the Crimean crisis.
And on Tuesday, he will be back in court, the German news agency DPA reports.
“This is actually a very stressful time for him,” admitted Christian Horner, the team boss at Red Bull but also a close friend and confidante, and touted as a potential successor.
“Bernie is the one who holds everything together,” Horner added.