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JANUARY 27, 2017

Ecclestone planning F1 breakaway series?

Mere days after he was "deposed", rumours and reports are swirling that former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone might be planning a breakaway.

The latest real news is that Ecclestone, 86, is selling his remaining $28 million stake in formula one, with F1 business journalist Christian Sylt writing in the Guardian that it will leave him with just 0.5 per cent.

At the very same time, the diminutive Briton's long-time friend and business colleague Flavio Briatore has emerged in the media, predicting dark times ahead for formula one.

"The picture is bleak," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "with teams in financial crisis, circuits collapsing and this hybrid formula that serves no one."

Germany's Auto Bild said a 'pirate series' set up by Ecclestone would theoretically be the old 'GP1' concept devised some years ago by Briatore, the ousted former Renault team boss.

The report said 'GP1' would be comprised of GP2 and GP3 teams, featuring normally aspirated engines and lower budgets.

One theory is that F1 teams balking at Liberty Media's idea of budget caps might also switch with Ecclestone to his new series, even though their current contracts run until 2020.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said: "We are fully behind formula one and want nothing to do with any other planned series."