Bernie Ecclestone spent much of Wednesday brushing aside suggestions his sport was for sale with News Corp widely touted as being one of the leading candidates to buy it.

863 - 'Formula One is not for sale' - Ecclestone

The speculation was fuelled by BSkyB and the Times, both probably uncoincidently News Corp organisations, who also linked the sale with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

But Ecclestone was in no mood to play ball. "It is all rubbish," he said. "Formula One is not for sale, and anyway we would not sell to a media company because it would restrict the ability to negotiate with other broadcasters.

"CVC [F1's commercial owners] are not in the slightest bit interested in selling. A lot of people approach them but they are there for the long term."

He added said that while CVC was not looking to sell, if a large enough bid was tabled then it could be an option. "If someone was to come along with an enormous offer, a lot more than it was worth, then they have to look at it. They have never talked about selling, though."

Former world champion Jackie Stewart told the Daily Telegraph he was sceptical News Corp would make a move.

"When a company of News Corp's size buys something they want to take control of it," he said. "It would be a very bitter pill for Bernie to swallow should they, or any buyer, decide to get rid of him. Formula One really is Bernie's entire life. He loves the challenge.

"But Bernie knows Rupert Murdoch. I'm sure they have had many dinners together. If they take over they may turn around and say 'why try to fix a wheel if it's not broken?' After all F1 has never been more popular than it is now, which considering the economy is pretty impressive whichever way you look at it.

"[Ecclestone] has always balked at the idea of grooming a successor, admitting he will have to be carried away in a coffin. I'm not sure that age is all that important. Rupert is the same age as Bernie. Health is more important."