Ecclestone: 'F1 used to be like skiing'

“Formula One should be like it used to be — and it used to be like this,” the 85-year-old told CNN at Kitzbuhel, Austria.

The terrifying course, which catapults racers from zero to 100kph in three seconds, is considered the jewel in the ski season crown — much like one prestigious course in F1.

“Kitzbuhel is the Monaco of ski racing. Have you been at the start?! These guys are very brave,” Ecclestone said.

The infamous ‘mousetrap’ jump, which has a stomach-churning 85% gradient and launches racers 260ft into the air, strikes fear into the heart of even the most seasoned skiers.

And one man renowned for pushing himself to the very limits of his sport was particularly in awe of those tackling the Kitzbuhel slope.

“It’s amazing,” Dutch F1 driver Max Verstappen told CNN.

“You have a lot of respect for the skiers because it’s pretty impressive with the speeds they do to make the corners on such a difficult layout — it’s very cool.”

Verstappen and Ecclestone were skiing in the annual Kitz Charity Trophy, a foundation set up to support farming families in the Austrian state of Tyrol.

“I haven’t done it for five years but started again this year. It’s always good fun,” the 19-year-old said.

F1’s annual edition of musical chairs came to its conclusion last week, with the news Valtteri Bottas would be replacing retired world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.

It also prompted Felipe Massa to come out of retirement to take the vacant seat left by Bottas at Williams and Verstappen is predicting an exciting new season.

“We’ll see. It will be close between Mercedes, Ferrari, us, Red Bull,” he said.

“We have to wait and see when we go testing and even after testing you’re still not sure. Let’s see in Melbourne (the first race on the F1 calendar).”