Ecclestone smiles, jokes as bribery trial begins

Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday showed he has not lost his sense of humour, despite the seriousness of his predicament.

Facing the loss of his job in charge of formula one, hundreds of millions of dollars in potential penalties and even jail, the sport's diminutive chief executive found a reason to smile as he arrived in court.

"I'm confident, the sun is shining," the 83-year-old, flanked by his legal team, told reporters in Munich.

He was just as jovial in court. Asked by the judge if he is married or divorced, Ecclestone answered: "Both! But I like to remember the divorce part."

The judge smiled: "Those were the easier questions."

The main feature of day one in the high-profile bribery trial was a written statement by Ecclestone, in which he argued he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky.

"It was clear he wanted money," the Briton said.

"I often asked my lawyers, is there a German word for blackmail?"

(GMM)

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