Bernie Ecclestone, the former Formula 1 Executive, has defended Russian President Vladimir Putin saying he would "take a bullet" for him.

As reported by The Independent, in an interview on Good Morning Britain earlier today (Thursday, June 30) the 91-year-old was asked whether he still stood by Mr Putin, who he is friends with.

He replied: “I would still take a bullet for him. I’d rather it didn’t hurt but I would still take a bullet.”

When asked why he would take such action, Mr Ecclestone said: “Because he’s a first class person, and what he’s doing is something that he believed was the right thing.

“Unfortunately he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me, we make mistakes from time to time. And when you’ve made a mistake you have to do your best to get out of it.”

Mr Ecclestone also made comments about Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, saying that he should have made more of an effort to speak to Putin to avoid conflict.

A spokesperson for F1 reacted to the interview, saying: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport.”

Mr Ecclestone has defended Mr Putin in previous years, such as when he told The Times in 2019 that he felt the Russian President should be "running Europe".

He said: “He’s never done anything that isn’t doing good things for people. I would like him running Europe. We haven’t got anybody, so it couldn’t be any worse.

“I am not a supporter of democracy. You need a dictator. As a dictator, you say, ‘This is what I’m going to do’. In a democracy, it gets watered down.”

How did GMB viewers react to Bernier Ecclestone's comments?

Viewers of Good Morning Britain were critical of Mr Ecclestone's comments defending Mr Putin.

One viewer posted on Twitter: "So Mr Putin accidentally started a war with Ukraine.... but he's such a good guy and I'm sure if the right person were to have spoken with him he wouldn't have done it! What is Bernie on? I think he hasn't had his meds this morning".

Another put: "What a strange interview. Bernie claiming it’s all on Zelensky to stop the war. Then says Putin didn’t mean to start it.. Then claiming he’d still take a bullet for Putin. Talk about backing the wrong horse."

Some viewers did question the necessity of interviewing Mr Ecclestone on the subject, with one posting: "Can’t understand why you felt the need to interview Ecclestone on this subject. He has clearly lost the plot."