LONDON (AP) — With Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One future in doubt amid bribery allegations, one of the most influential team bosses on Wednesday said the series' prosperity relies on him remaining in charge.
Christian Horner, team principal of reigning constructors' champion Red Bull, believes Ecclestone is "the only guy" who can ensure F1 maintains its global reach as the premier motorsport series.
The 83-year-old Ecclestone, who has built his F1 powerbase since the 1970s, is awaiting the outcome of a $140 million bribery trial relating to F1's sale in 2005.
Evidence was heard at London's High Court at the end of last year about the measures Ecclestone allegedly took to maintain his grip on F1, claims the billionaire denies.
The banker Ecclestone is accused of bribing has already been jailed in Germany for taking a payment from the billionaire, who is also waiting to hear if he will have to stand trial in Munich on charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust.
Regardless of those legal fights, Horner still strongly backs his long-time friend, dismissing any fears the cases are damaging F1's image.
In fact, Horner fears the series could be damaged if Ecclestone was no longer serving as its commercial chief.
"Bernie is absolutely the best and only guy to do what he does, to take Formula One to the global reach that the sport has achieved, introducing races in Russia this year, going back to the Austrian Grand Prix," Horner said after speaking at a Leaders Sport Network breakfast in London. "It's a massive calendar that he's pulled together (for 2014) ... it's in all our interests that he's around as long as possible."
Horner was tipped by Ecclestone in November to eventually succeed him after a transitional period, but the Red Bull boss has no plans to leave the winners of the last four constructors' championships.
"I have a long-standing commitment with Red Bull, a multi-year commitment," Horner said. "I'm very happy in doing what I do. I have a very good friendship with Bernie. I have no interest in getting out of my contract."