London (AFP) - Bernie Ecclestone was accused on Friday of having "made us look like idiots" by the chief executive of Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit after the former Grand Prix supremo admitted deliberately over-charging tracks to stage Formula One races.
"I don't understand why he made those kinds of statements," Razlan Razali told AFP in an interview in London. "As a loyal customer of his for the last 19 years, it showed a total lack of respect, I think, and made us look like idiots in some ways."
This year will witness the last Malaysian Grand Prix for the foreseeable future, with the race disappearing from the calendar a year earlier than planned after a combination of low attendances and high fees. The government spent some US$67.6 million (S$94.46 million) annually to stage a race first run in 1999, and that was no longer something that Sepang International Circuit (SIC) officials and their political bosses could tolerate.
Earlier this month, 86-year-old British businessman Ecclestone, ousted from his controlling position in Formula One during the off-season following a takeover by US-based Liberty Media, gave an interview in which he admitted over-charging.
Speaking to Autosport magazine during the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit, one of several new venues for Formula One since the turn of the century, he said: "When I convinced people to build this place and all the other places, I feel a little bit responsible. I charged them too much for what we provide.
"On my watch, we didn't deliver the show that we charged people for."
He added: "Sooner or later I'm frightened that the governments behind them (the track promoters) will say enough is enough, and bye-bye."
That is pretty much what happened in Malaysia and Razali added: "We always complained that the cost was too high and every year we tried to negotiate to get more value for money.
"To come out with that kind of statement, it's frustrating and it makes us look like (idiots) really."