Formula One boss dismisses criticism in Hitler flap

— Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone dismissed calls for his resignation Monday in the wake of his praise for Adolf Hitler.

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

LONDON — Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone dismissed calls for his resignation Monday in the wake of his praise for Adolf Hitler.

Ecclestone, F1’s commercial rights holder, has come under fire from Jewish groups and British politicians following an interview published Saturday in The Times of London during which he said democracy wasn’t effective and singled out Hitler as a strong leader.

Among those who have expressed outrage over Ecclestone’s remarks is Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. Lauder said someone with Ecclestone’s views should not be allowed to run such an important and popular racing series.

But Ecclestone said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that “I think the people who are saying that (I should resign) haven’t got the power to say these things.”

If the WJC is influential, he said, “it’s a pity they didn’t sort the banks out.” Asked to elaborate, Ecclestone said, “They have a lot of influence everywhere.”

The World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish communities in more than 80 countries, was founded in 1936 to “mobilize the world against the Nazi onslaught,” according to its website, which says it continues to secure “the rights and safety of Jews” around the world.

Ecclestone said he had not intended to invoke Hitler’s name in the interview with the Times. He acknowledged that it “doesn’t help” that he is praising Hitler a little over a year since Max Mosley, president of F1’s governing body, took a British tabloid to court after being accused of being involved in a Nazi-themed sadomasochistic orgy.