The former F1 boss courted controversy for calling the Russian president, who has invaded Ukraine, a “first class person”, before separately saying Hamilton “should be happy” with an apology from Nelson Piquet after his racist remarks.

Ecclestone, aged 91, has now apologised to Sky for his Putin comments: “It’s probably good for me to get some things off my chest as well, things that have been bothering me about what I said and what people think what I’ve said,” he said.

“So I think often people come out and say things or do things without really too much thinking. Probably I did the same. I can understand people thinking that I’m defending what he’s done in Ukraine, which I don’t.

“I was brought up during the war, the last war, so I know what it’s like and I feel sorry for the people in Ukraine having to suffer for something they haven’t done. They’ve done nothing wrong.

“They didn’t start anything and they’ve done nothing. They want to get on with their life. They want to get to school and try to go to work and earn a living, to keep the family going. So they don’t deserve to have to suffer. It’s not good for anybody.

“I can’t see anyone getting anything out of this, and I think they should get together and get an agreement. I’m sorry if it’s anything I’ve said that’s upsetting anybody because it certainly wasn’t intended.”

Ecclestone had previously said to ITV about Putin: “I’d still take a bullet for him.

“I’d rather it didn’t hurt but I’d still take a bullet because he is a first-class person and what he is doing is something he believes is the right thing, he’s doing for Russia.

“Unfortunately, he is like a lot of business people, certainly like me, we make mistakes from time to time and when you make mistakes you have to do the best you can to get out of it.”

Ecclestone does not mention Hamilton

But Ecclestone made no mention of his previous comments towards Hamilton.

Hamilton was called a racist word by former F1 champion Piquet, who then apologised while insisting the insult was not racially motivated. Ecclestone backed Piquet’s apology.

Ecclestone said about Piquet to ITV: "I've known Nelson for an awful long time. I was with him a couple of weeks ago. It's not the sort of thing Nelson would say meaning something bad. 

"He probably thinks lots of things he says which might upset us or might feel a little bit offensive.... to him it's nothing. It's just part of conversation. Nelson would never go out of his way to say anything bad, certainly.

"I think what probably happened, knowing Nelson as I know him, as his daughter is the girlfriend of Max Verstappen, probably after seeing the accident, he probably exploded and carried that forward. Well it's probably not appropriate with us. But probably it isn't something terrible that happens if you said that in Brazil.

"People say things... if people happen to be a little bit overweight, or undersized like me, I'm quite sure a lot of people have made remarks about that. If I'd have heard it, I'd have been able to deal with it myself without too much trouble. I'm surprised Lewis hasn't just brushed it aside. Or, better than that, replied. But he's now come out and Nelson has apologised. So everybody seems, or should be, happy."