Just a day after news broke that he is facing an expensive divorce battle over his ?2.4 billion fortune with wife Slavica [see separate story - click here], Bernie Ecclestone has asserted that he intends to 'never, never, never' retire from his position at the top of international motorsport.

The Formula One Management chief executive has controlled the commercial side of the sport for the best part of three decades, during which time he has ruled the top flight with an iron fist.

Ecclestone has been the key figure in making F1 the multi-million pound business prospect it is today, and despite undergoing triple coronary bypass surgery nine years ago, is adamant that he is 'as fit as a fiddle' and will have to be literally transported from his job into his grave - not that such a moment will arrive anytime soon, he assures.

"Never, never, never," the 78-year-old billionaire stressed in an interview with the Gulf News newspaper, upon being asked when he plans to relinquish the reins and hand over to a successor. "The first day I won't be going into work is the day they will be lowering me into my grave - and that won't be for a long time to come."

The sport's supremo also predicted a healthy future for grand prix, racing despite the current credit crunch sweeping the globe and the loss of the Canadian and French Grands Prix from the 2009 calendar - insisting there are more than enough other potential venues desperate to fill the void.

"If you could see the list of requests I have in my office you'd hardly believe it," he contended. "It is mind boggling."