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2018 F1

Ecclestone: New F1 owner dumped me in the VIP tower outside paddock

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Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has played down speculation Bernie Ecclestone might be plotting to front a ‘breakaway’ world championship.

Although ousted as F1 supremo by Liberty Media, 87-year-old Ecclestone was in Bahrain a week ago — and notably he wore a white shirt bearing the now-defunct old F1 logo.

Ecclestone has been highly critical of Liberty, instead backing top teams Ferrari and Mercedes who have suggested proposed rule changes for 2021 might cause them to quit F1.

In Bahrain, Ecclestone also accused Liberty of housing him in a sub-standard office.

“Last year I had an office in the race control tower,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “Now they’ve dumped me in the VIP tower outside the paddock.

“I think Liberty wants to make life difficult for me,” Ecclestone added.

That might be because of rumours Ecclestone might be plotting a ‘breakaway’ championship, but Mercedes team chairman Lauda played that rumour down.

“I often meet with Bernie in Ibiza,” the former triple world champion told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

“I also saw him over Easter and I was glad that he came to Bahrain.

“Sure, he is not pleased with how formula one is developing, but in my view completely understandably. Because while we’re debating budget caps, we’re tormenting people instead of giving them decent races,” Lauda added.

As for Ecclestone’s links with a ‘breakaway’, Lauda answered: “There is no breakaway programme. There’s no idea of it at all.

“First of all, it’s too far away. For now it’s important to get on terms with Liberty Media so that we can all continue to be here in a reasonable way.”

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