Bernie Ecclestone denied bribery as his trial in Munich began on Thursday.

Ecclestone is accused of paying a $44million (?26m) bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to help ensure a stake in F1 was sold to a company he favoured - CVC Capital Partners - in 2006. Ecclestone was present in Germany for the start of the trial, and a statement from his lawyers reiterated his denial.

"Mr. Ecclestone defends himself against the accusations of the prosecutors and denies them," the statement read. "The alleged bribery never happened. The charges are based on statements by Dr. Gribkowsky that are incorrect, misleading and incoherent. The real course of events does not support the accusations."

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While Ecclestone admits making a payment to Gribkowsky - who was found guilty of bribery and tax evasion and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 - he says it was a result of "a sophisticated shakedown" and denies wrongdoing.

The trial will run on two days per week in order to allow Ecclestone to continue his day-to-day work in F1, and will continue on May 2.