Oct.27 (GMM/Inautonews.com) German bank and former F1 shareholder BayernLB contemplated dismissing Bernie Ecclestone six years ago, it emerged during Gerhard Gribkowsky’s corruption trial this week.

The trial, with Briton Ecclestone set to appear as a witness next month, surrounds the F1 chief executive’s suspect payment of millions to Gribkowsky, who was then in charge of BayernLB’s F1 share.

An employee testified on Wednesday that Ecclestone heard during bank meetings several times in 2005 that F1 “could do without him”, the Reuters news agency reports.

Ecclestone, turning 81 on Friday, told the German newspaper Die Welt this week that formula one would survive without him.

“It would,” he said, “but things would be very different if I’m not there.

“I have a very great and strong support from many people, with a lot of mutual trust.

“If the leadership was to change, nothing would be affected seriously but it would be more complicated and difficult because that trust might not be there any more.

“People would probably want to read the contracts ten times more than if I was there,” added Ecclestone.