Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, free from his bribery trial in Germany, says he has no plans to quit after running the show for almost four decades and his current focus is on tackling the popularity issue facing the sport even though "it is nothing big and just a phase".
Ecclestone insisted that his court case, which started in April and ended earlier in the month, did not affect his routine work.
"I had it all covered actually. The hearings did not make much of a difference. I was busy working on legal matters during weekdays and then I was there in the paddock at race weekends like usual. Now I will only have more time for the sport," Ecclestone told PTI from his London office.
The 83-year-old remains a permanent figure in world of Formula One, putting countless rumours on his retirement to rest.
His approach has not changed after the Munich trial which he settled by paying a staggering USD 100 million.
"I have not thought about retirement really and I don't think I will ever come to that stage. I am here for as long as I can be and as long as I have the support of the stakeholders," said the former car salesman who now, with a personal wealth of USD 4.2 billion, is the 12th richest billionaire in UK, claims Forbes.
Fall in spectator interest and television viewership of the global sport has been the most talked issue of late. The German Grand Prix in Hockenheim drew a Sunday crowd of 52,000, 38 percent less than the last race at the alternate venue two years ago. The figures dropped at a time when the home team, Mercedes, is dominating the overall championship.
Asked about his thoughts on the matter, Ecclestone said: "A lot of people talk a lot of rubbish. If there is a decrease in viewership, it is in all sports not only Formula One. People have so many other options that were not there earlier. Having said that, I feel it is just a phase. The racing this season has been exciting and it will all be back to normal very soon."
He feels the fierce title rivalry between Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton could not have come at a better time.
"What it has done is created a lot of interest. That is very good for the sport. I still have my money on Nico though Hamilton is well and truly capable of surpassing his teammate. But for Hamilton to do that, I reckon Nico will have to be extremely unlucky in the coming rounds. I see it going down to the wire anyway," said Ecclestone.
Rosberg leads Hamilton by 29 points with seven rounds remaining in the season.