this week has once again played down reports he is first in line should Bernie Ecclestone
step down as F1 supremo. 83-year-old Ecclestone is fighting legal battles on several fronts at present over the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery scandal.
On Wednesday, he amused reporters as he arrived to testify in London's high court, calling them "lazy bastards" before entering the revolving door and then exiting it on the same side. He then tried to enter the building through a conventional glass door that wouldn't open, shrugging when the reporters asked if he is confident he will prevail in the multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by a German media company.
While testifying, F1's inimitable chief executive sounded unconcerned about the outcome of his legal troubles, which could ultimately see his long reign over the sport end. "I don't mind," Ecclestone told Constantin Medien's lawyer, "I've got plenty of things to do."
If the diminutive Briton is forced into retirement, or is jailed, one name constantly mentioned as a potential successor is Christian Horner -- Red Bull's 39-year-old, ultra-successful team boss who is famously allied to Ecclestone.
British newspapers quoted Horner as saying on Wednesday: "Looking at the health that Bernie's in, he's going to outlive all of us! I have no interest in the role that he performs. My focus is in running a team and I think actually to replace Bernie would be impossible, certainly with one person. I'm very happy with what I do here," Horner insisted. "I'm focused and committed to this team."
However, Horner's attitude might be changed if Red Bull's current team begins to break up. Designer Adrian Newey
has been linked with an America's Cup foray, while Sebastian Vettel
is constantly linked with a move to Ferrari
Indeed, it has been suggested leaving Red Bull might be the only way the new quadruple world champion is accepted both in terms of popularity and greatness. Alain Prost
said: "If he (Vettel) wants to he should move, but not to please someone else -- only if he wants to do it for himself."
Vettel, however, said he is committed to Red Bull. "Even if I go to another team, I will still have people who doubt or don't like who I am and what I do," said the 26-year-old. "At the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself and right now I can assure you I'm very happy with who I am and what I do." (GMM)