The Formula One boss said the former Paralympian, who is currently serving a five year prison sentence, would not have made a long-term mark on the sports world had he not killed his girlfriend.
In an interview published in Campaign Asia magazine, Ecclestone said: "If you want to get recognised you’ve got to do something. This poor guy in South Africa [Oscar Pistorius], for instance, has got more interest because of what happened with him than when he was winning gold medals.
"He won medals and afterwards nobody thought about him. If this case hadn’t happened he would have been forgotten, probably."
Ecclestone, who is known for being outspoken, made the comments in relation to a question about whether he was concerned about the impact of struggling F1 teams Caterham and Marussia. Both teams have gone into administration and have missed the last two races in Texas and Brazil.
He said: "Nobody will miss the two teams because they’re not front-running teams; they’ve only got a name that people would know because of the problem they’re in." He then made the allusion to Pistorius.
By comparison, Ecclestone stated that Ferrari is a "brand" – "[it] is the one team that has been there from day one" – that will help to ensure the future of F1.
"If you go anywhere and you say to somebody 'Ferrari', they'll know what you're talking about".
Pistorius has always maintained that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her four times on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was cleared of murder but found guilty of culpable homicide.
Legal experts predict that he could only serve 10 months behind bars and will spend the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest.
The prosecution’s application appealing against Pistorius’ sentence and culpable homicide conviction will be heard on 9 December.
In the interview Ecclestone also said that F1 did not need to appeal to young people. "I don’t know why people want to get the so-called 'young generation'. Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money. I’d rather get the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash."
He added that he runs the business "from day to day" .
"I get up in the morning and I don’t know what’s going to happen."Reuse content