Bernie Ecclestone F-! putin

Bernie Ecclestone believes Vladimir Putin should be put in charge of Europe
The controversial ex-F1 boss says the Russian president should be "running Europe" and that he is not a supporter of democracy.

The former boss of Formula One Group {F-1), which manages Formula One car racing and controls the commercial rights to the sport, Bernie Ecclestone, says he would stand in front of any gunman who tried to shoot Vladimir Putin because he is a "good guy" who had nothing to do with the novichok attack in Salisbury.

According to the billionaire, Mr Putin would have been "too busy" to have been involved in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were poisoned with the nerve agent in March last year.

Mr Ecclestone, 88, told The Times: "If someone had a machine gun and was prepared to shoot Putin, I would stand in front of him.

"Why? Because he's a good guy. He's never done anything that isn't doing good things for people."

Mr Ecclestone also said he thought Mr Putin should be "running Europe" and that the invasion of Crimea was just to "bring Russia back together".
Putin smile

Bernie Ecclestone claimed Vladimir Putin 'says what he is going to do'
He added: "I would like him running Europe. We haven't got anybody, so it couldn't be any worse. He does what he says he is going to do.

"I am not a supporter of democracy. You need a dictator. As a dictator, you say, 'This is what I am going to do.' In a democracy, it gets watered down."

On the Salisbury attack, he said: ''[Putin] didn't do that. He would be too busy to be worrying about that sort of thing. Storytellers make these things up."

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in June after she came into contact with a perfume container used to carry out the novichok attack.

The two suspects Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

The pair claimed they were just visiting the city to see its cathedral and the Russian government has always denied any involvement in the incident.

Mr Ecclestone is no stranger to sparking controversy - he was previously forced to apologise when speaking in praise of Adolf Hitler, saying he was a man that could "get things done".