Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been arrested by Brazilian authorities for carrying a gun in his luggage on a private plane headed for Switzerland.

The 91-year-old former leader and supremo of F1, who spent 40 years at the helm of the championship, was arrested whilst attempting to board a private plane after an X-Ray of his luggage revealed the presence of an LW Seecamp .32 gun – a small, automatic pistol.

Upon his arrest he was taken to a detention facility at Viracopos Airport late last night in Campinas. Police say that Ecclestone was unaware it was within his luggage, but confessed to owning the weapon.

The multi-millionaire paid a bail fee and was soon freed and allowed to travel to his intended destination in Switzerland. Illegal possession of a firearm in Brazil carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison, but Ecclestone was released due to factors which were not divulged.

He lives part-time with his Brazilian wife Fabiana Ecclestone, 44, current vice-president of the FIA to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and World Motor Sport Council member, at a large coffee plantation close to the city of Sao Paulo since 2012.

Eccesltone was ousted from his position at the top of Formula 1 when the championship was purchased by US-based investment firm Liberty Media in 2017, who quickly chose to remove him from office and replace him with a new CEO in Chase Carey.

Former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has since taken over Carey’s position after the American felt he had done his job in creating an all-new Concorde Agreement which removed a raft of concessions and contentious deals between the sport and the teams which Ecclestone had put in place.

Ecclestone has since criticised the direction in which Liberty Media are taking the championship after his chairman emeritus status quietly concluded in 2020, previously being a high-profile critic of the digital age and specifically the use of social media in and around a Formula 1 weekend – something in which he firmly banned during his final few years in F1.

During his recent stay in Brazil he reportedly met with former Sauber, Ferrari and Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa and attended a stock car racing event at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo with his wife, Fabiana, where the Brazilian Grand Prix is due to be held later in the year.