After media reports that Bernie Ecclestone was arrested for illegal gun possession in Brazil, the ex-Formula 1 boss said: “I wasn’t arrested, I was questioned.”

Former Formula 1 chief marketer Bernie Ecclestone has denied he was arrested for illegal gun possession at an airport in Brazil. “No, I wasn’t arrested, I was questioned,” the 91-year-old told the British news agency PA on Friday. “The crime wasn’t possession of the gun, it was that it wasn’t registered.”

The small pistol of the type LWS-32 from the US manufacturer Seecamp was not loaded and was accidentally packed in his suitcase. He had to pay a fine of 6,000 Brazilian reals (1,175 euros) and the gun was confiscated.

The weapon was only “for show”.

“I had a small, tiny handgun, like a woman carries in her purse in case someone jumps on her,” Ecclestone said. He got it years ago from a Formula 1 mechanic who told him it was good to have a gun with you in Brazil.

“It wasn’t loaded and it’s just for show,” Ecclestone said. “I only had them in the house and never walked around with them.” He waved his gun around there for fun and then put the gun on a T-shirt – later both things were packed together. The pistol was discovered at airport security.

He spent several hours with the police and was therefore only able to leave at 5 a.m. the next morning, Ecclestone said. “But it was all very friendly, very nice and there were a lot of Formula 1 fans I could talk to.” It was very embarrassing for everyone – “a lot of trouble about nothing”. Ecclestone had been in Brazil with his Brazilian wife Fabiana for around a month and had attended several motorsport events there.