Bernie Ecclestone Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: When one is knocked down, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is knocked out, especially during these trying times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Similar is the case of former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, who has announced that he will be a father again at the ripe old age of 89.

Ecclestone, who turned the sport of Formula One around as chief executive from 1978 to 2017, already has three adult daughters from two previous marriages. But now the former F1 chief disclosed that he is to become a father for the fourth time, with wife Fabiana Flosi, who is half his age.

The couple are expecting a son in July.

“There’s nothing that unusual, is there?” he said from the couple’s home in Brazil.

“I haven’t had a job for a little while, so I have had plenty of time to practice. I don’t see there’s any difference between being 89 and 29,” he added.

As a driver, Ecclestone entered two Grand Prix races during the 1958 season, but failed to qualify for either of them. Later, he became manager of drivers Stuart Lewis-Evans and Jochen Rindt. In 1972, he bought the Brabham team over a 15-year period during which he became a member of the Formula One Constructors Association.

Ecclestone’s control of the sport, which grew from his pioneering the sale of television rights in the late 1970s, was chiefly financial, but under the terms of the Concorde Agreement he and his companies also managed the administration, set-up and logistics of each Formula One Grand Prix, making him one of the richest men in the UK.

In January 2017, Ecclestone was replaced by Chase Carey as chief executive of the Formula One Group, though he still continues as chairman emeritus while acting as an adviser to the board. He, along with former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore also owned English football club Queens Park Rangers from 2007 to 2011.

Ecclestone has two earlier marriages. He married Ivy Bamford in 1952 with whom he had Deborah (now 65 years old) followed by a second marriage with former Croatian model Slavica Radic in 1985. The couple have two daughters — Tamara (36) and Petra (32) — before getting divorced after 23 years of marriage, in 2009 and becoming one of the richest divorcees with an estimated settlement of 740 million pounds (Dh3.33 billion).

In 2012, Ecclestone married Flosi — 45 years his junior — at his ski chalet in Switzerland, three years after they first started dating. “I’m very happy and happy really for my wife, she’s been looking forward to this happening for quite a few years so I’m happy she’ll have someone after I’m gone,” Ecclestone has been quoted.

“Yes, she is thrilled, but we’re not sure what all the fuss is all about,” he added.