LONDON – Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone faced criticism from politicians and Jewish groups Saturday after being quoted as saying that Adolf Hitler « got things done. »
In an interview with London’s The Times newspaper, Ecclestone expressed a preference for « strong leaders, » citing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Max Mosley, outgoing head of Formula One’s governing body, as examples.
He was quoted as saying that democracy « hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one. »
« In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done, » Ecclestone was quoted as saying.
« In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator. »
Ecclestone also said the West had been wrong to depose Iraq’s Sadam Hussein, saying : « He was the only one who could control that country. »
The Board of Deputies of British Jews told The Times that Ecclestone’s views were « quite bizarre, » and Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard said he was « either an idiot or morally repulsive. » Labour Party lawmaker Denis MacShane told the newspaper that the remarks revealed ignorance of history and « a complete lack of judgment. »
Calls to Ecclestone’s London office were not immediately returned Saturday.
Ecclestone, who owns F1’s commercial rights, is no stranger to controversial remarks. He once said women should dress in white « like all other domestic appliances. »
In The Times interview, Ecclestone said that had been a joke, adding « I would love to have a good lady race driver and preferably black and Jewish too, but they might take maternity leave. »