In a move seemingly designed to wind up everybody west of Moscow, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has denounced the Skirpal poisoning as “fake news” and said he’d take a bullet for “good guy” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a freewheeling interview with the Times, the 88-year-old billionaire declared that Putin was “too busy” to have ordered the poisoning of double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last March, branding reports of Russian involvement “fake news.”

From there, Ecclestone further professed his admiration for the Russian leader. “If someone had a machine gun and was prepared to shoot Putin, I would stand in front of him,” Ecclestone said. “Because he’s a good guy. He’s never done anything that isn’t doing good things for people.”

Forget about the Mays and Macrons and Merkels: Putin should be “running Europe,” he recommended. “We haven’t got anybody, so it couldn’t be any worse. He does what he says he is going to do.”

Predictably, commenters were a mix of puzzled and enraged. “Are we really so surprised that Bernie Ecclestone has horrendous views?!,” tweeted one, while others called the F1 chief a “fascist” and a “punk.”

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