Bernie Ecclestone says Lewis Hamilton is a God-send for F1 amid a “not so exciting” time for the sport. However, he sympathised with Sebastian Vettel and his plight this season.
Mercedes’ Hamilton will almost certainly wrap up his fifth drivers’ world championship on Sunday in Mexico.
“The guy is just phenomenal,” former F1 supremo Ecclestone told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“He is simply the best — on many levels. He is the best driver, he gets better and better under pressure, and he does so much more for formula one than anyone else.
“He’s the attraction at a time when formula one is not so exciting. Formula one needs Lewis more than ever,” the 88-year-old added.
In contrast, Ecclestone says he is good friends with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and still enjoys his games of Backgammon with the German.
“That’s not good for the show, of course,” Ecclestone concedes.
But he thinks Vettel’s failed 2018 championship campaign is not just the driver’s fault.
“Sebastian did not have the backing and support of his team, while Lewis has the team 100 per cent behind him. He does not have to worry about what Mercedes does. Everything is perfect with them,” Ecclestone added.
“Ferrari could have done it but there’s a lot of politics there and Sebastian didn’t feel the backing he needed. I think he was alone,” the Briton said.
Ecclestone suggests Ferrari became lost following the shock death in July of its president Sergio Marchionne.
“I believe a lot wasn’t the way it should have been after that,” he said.
“He was a strong, respected man and they missed that leadership greatly,” added Ecclestone.
Ferrari replaced Marchionne with Louis Camilleri, a former Philip Morris CEO. Mauricio Arrivabene, the team boss, is another former Philip Morris executive.
“Ferrari has to decide whether the current management is correct. I don’t want to judge that,” said Ecclestone.
But he says there is no doubt Mercedes has done “everything right since the hybrid era began”.
“I just think they would be even happier if they had more competition. It would make their victories even more valuable,” Ecclestone added.
Finally, Ecclestone said he thinks Mick Schumacher is “well on the way to formula one”.
“It’s just too bad that his father cannot support him,” he said, referring to Mick’s father Michael who is reportedly stricken at home with brain injuries.