Bernie Ecclestone unplugged is always good value, and despite his irrelevance as a powerbroker on the Formula 1 landscape, he does follow the sport and has been impressed by Lewis Hamilton but is loathe to compare the Mercedes driver to either great of the sport.
Thus he had a lot to day in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s remarkable year in which he surpassed Michael Schumacher’s victory record in Formula 1, and also matched the great German in world titles, claiming his seventh with a masterful drive in Portugal to seal the deal.
Bernie was impressed by the feat, and told Sport1, “Lewis deserved it. He always beat his teammate, apart from 2016. He hardly makes any mistakes, but I compare him to a poker player who knows he has four aces in his hand.
“He can play poker while the others are sweating. I would like to see him on a team with a Max Verstappen. The question is whether he would make so few mistakes under pressure.
“Lewis is one of the best, without question. Like Michael too. But who is ultimately the best can never be answered. You can hardly compare Michael, Lewis or Ayrton Senna with each other.
“Before the Second World War, real miracles were said about a Bernd Rosemeyer. Juan-Manuel Fangio won five world titles in the 50s and he’s still ahead in terms of win rate.
“What if Jim Clark or Ayrton Senna hadn’t had an accident that early? Or Jochen Rindt, who for me personally was the fastest, would have had competitive cars earlier in his career?
“Alain Prost is also very high in my ranking with his four World Championship titles. And Sebastian Vettel too. It wasn’t that long ago that he was seen at the top of the all-time leaderboard.
“Unfortunately, hardly anyone speaks of him positively anymore. In Formula 1, a driver is still dependent on his car. And his Ferrari doesn’t seem to suit him right now.”
Indeed the Vettel-era of dominance at Red Bull ended in 2013 with Seb’s fourth title. Mercedes were then the next powerhouse and have won 14 F1 titles in seven years.
A team was once known as Tyrrell and powered Jackie Stewart to titles in 1071 and 1973, before it was sold to BAR, which became Honda, then Brawn for a singe year before being bought by Mercedes and turned into the winning machine it became with the foundations set by Ross Brawn, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.
Bernie was quick to give credit to “Toto Wolff and all the others. I don’t want to diminish the performance of everyone involved, but in 2014 all they had to do was lie down in the bed that Ross Brawn and Michael, among others, made for them.
“The real achievement then was rather to maintain the level. I think Niki Lauda made a big contribution to that. But, as I said, the Mercedes engine was more than half the battle.
More of Bernie’s musings here>>>