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Billionaire Ecclestone is not materialistic

Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone is rich - very rich. Although he will be turning 80 later this month, the Briton, who is ranked 212th on the Forbes list of the richest people in the world, still goes to work every day.

In an interview published in the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Ecclestone said that if he stopped working, he could no longer solve problems.

"And if I no longer can do that, that would be the beginning of dying. So I work. And I enjoy working."

Although he lives in a palatial villa in Chelsea and has apartments and houses in Gstaad (Switzerland), on Corsica and on the French Riviera, Ecclestone says he needs no luxury.

"Material things are not for ever. I only need a steak, a salad and my jet," he said. "I started making a lot of money very early, selling cars and motorcycles. I always dreamt of being a racing driver, but I soon had to discover that I was a better businessman than I was a racing driver. Simple as that."

He admits that luck played a part in what he has achieved since, but also thinks that he took chances, where others might not have.

"You know, a lot of people say they should have done this or that. Should have? No. If it is a case of 'should have', it is passed. You should feel whether you want to do something or not."

He has always taken chances that presented themselves. At the age of 40 he bought the Brabham Formula One team. In 1971 he had an opportunity to form the constructors' association FOCA with Formula One teams and he took it, just as he took the opportunity in 1978 to secure the marketing and TV rights for Formula One.

"And another thing is very important," he continued. "You only get something if you are also prepared to give (something) and I think I gave a lot during my time and have received a lot back. Today many people just want to take without giving."

Ecclestone has given plenty - much of it without talking about it. During the fighting in Kosovo (his ex-wife comes from Croatia) he took his private jet to the area with a suitcase filled with money to build a hospital, and when his secretary was diagnosed with cancer, he had her moved to the best hospital in London and had all the bills sent to him.

Another thing that has formed him is the loss of close friends, many of them racing drivers like Jochen Rindt, the only man to have won the drivers' championship posthumously, or Carlos Pace and Elio de Angelis, who were racing for his Brabham team.

Those were not the only set-backs in his life. His highly-publicised and costly divorce from Slavica, with whom he has two daughters, is another.

But as he has done throughout his life, he bounced back and today has a new partner in the 34-year-old Brazilian Fabiana.

"What luck that I met her. It could have happened five years ago," he says.

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