Connect with us


In conversation – Bernie Ecclestone & Lewis Hamilton



Reams have been written about both Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, usually separately. Interviewed together for the first time at the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, the duo set out to make joint headlines, as they discussed the return of Michael Schumacher, the three new teams joining the grid this year, and each other…

Q: For a 41 year-old the performance of Michael Schumacher wasn’t too bad…

Bernie Ecclestone: It has nothing to do with age. I’m already 79, so be careful what you’re saying!
Lewis Hamilton: Obviously some people don’t age. Like Bernie and Michael. Don’t forget, he’s still a seven-time world champion, even if he wasn’t at the very top in Bahrain. Though I’m sure that it did not go unnoticed that Nico (Rosberg) was faster than him all weekend.

Q: And what do you draw from that?

LH: That Nico was the faster one. You could see that most clearly in qualifying, where there are no differences in fuel load and it is all about pure speed. Nico was clearly faster.

Q: Did you expect that would be the case?

LH: You can never bank on anything, but Nico is a very fast guy. I already knew that from the days when we were racing karts. We really fought it out on the track.

BE: How much was Michael slower than Nico? Three-tenths?

LH: That’s nothing.

BE: That’s what I’m saying, because a lap in Bahrain is pretty long.

Q: How big was the gap between you and your new team mate Jenson Button?
LH: Four-tenths.

Q: Lewis, how important is it for you to be faster than Jenson?

LH: It doesn’t make a difference for me. I want to win and that means that I have to beat my team mate. But I knew that Jenson would be fast. He’s a great driver.

Q: How many phone calls from prospective managers did you get after you announced that your father is to concentrate on his own business affairs?

LH: Bernie, may I tell them about your call?

BE: Sure. I tried to call him saying that I was in search of a job, but he didn’t pick up the phone.

LH: When I checked my voicemail, there he was – Bernie telling me that he was looking for a job!

Q: And what was your reply?

LH: That I will eventually call back…

BE: So obviously I wasn’t good enough!

LH: Honestly, I have received a lot of applications but I’m not in a hurry to decide. I am with a fantastic team, with many competent people, so at the moment I have no need for a manager.

BE: A driver doesn’t need a manager. Gerhard Berger is the prime example of that. He managed himself and was making more money than anybody else at the time he was racing. I am sure he made better deals for himself than he would have done with a manager at his side.

LH: Well, it’s good to know that at the moment I’m not in any contractual negotiations.

Q: Bernie, if you compare Lewis and Michael, what’s your conclusion?

BE: Michael’s comeback is fantastic for Formula One. But Lewis’s first season in Formula One – the year after Michael retired – was equally fantastic. What he delivered in his rookie year and the spectacular battles with Fernando Alonso made fans forget about the void left by Schumacher.

LH: Thanks for the compliment.

Q: Lewis, how satisfied are you with the first race weekend of the season?

LH: Well, after the February tests I hadn’t expected to be that far behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris, but we will fight to bridge the gap.

Q: Your former team boss Ron Dennis was in Bahrain. Is his presence a support?

LH: In terms of the racing it doesn’t make any difference, but I am always happy when he’s present, because I have a very close relationship with him. I admire what he has achieved in his career and what he has done for the team. Without him I wouldn’t be here.

BE: I think that he should attend more races too. He belongs in Formula One.

Q: Bernie, have you ever seen a better driver line-up than this season’s?

BE: Do you mean at McLaren or Mercedes? Honestly, I cannot remember having ever seen a better line-up than this year’s. Eight drivers eligible to win the championship. It definitely won’t boil down to a two-horse race.

Q: If you were still a team principal, which drivers would you sign?

BE: Probably the cheapest.

Q: So you wouldn’t sign Lewis?

LH: I don’t believe Bernie.

BE: Well, Lewis and Sebastian (Vettel) wouldn’t be too bad, if I negotiated cleverly enough.

Q: Before the season started you said that Hamilton and Vettel would fight it out for the title. Do you still stand by that prediction?

BE: After one race you cannot say who will win – except that it probably will not be Virgin.

LH: Never say never!

BE: In this case I can. I don’t think that the new teams will raise their performance significantly over the season.

LH: Well, I also have to admit that the gap between the new teams and the established ones is quite significant. But on the other hand, it’s good to see new teams enter Formula One. It’s good for our sport.

Q: Lewis, is here anything you have always wanted to know from Bernie but were too afraid to ask?

LH: No. I can always turn to Bernie if I need advice. He has always made compliments and has always supported me, so why should I be afraid? I admire what he has achieved. Formula One is the best sport in the world.

Latest Results

Latest F1 News

2018 F115 hours ago

Vettel denies cracking under pressure in 2018

Sebastian Vettel has denied that the pressure got to him in his 2018 title battle. Once ahead of Lewis Hamilton...

2018 F11 day ago

Ricciardo does not want to be the second driver at Red Bull – Valsecchi

Daniel Ricciardo had little choice other than to leave Red Bull. That is the view of Davide Valsecchi, a former...

2018 F12 days ago

‘Very easy’ to make Vettel-like errors – Alesi

Jean Alesi has backed his old team Ferrari, amid criticism of the Italian outfit and its top driver Sebastian Vettel....

2018 F12 days ago

Four drivers line up for second Williams F1 seat

A quartet of drivers are in the running to be British rookie George Russell’s teammate at Williams in 2019. With...

2018 F12 days ago

Raikkonen fined after colliding with parked car

Kimi Raikkonen must pay a fine of 350 Swiss francs after hitting a car outside his home in Baar, Switzerland....

2018 F13 days ago

Mick Schumacher become the first German driver to win European F3 title

Mick Schumacher, the son of Seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher, has become the first German driver to win the Formula...

2018 F13 days ago

McLaren ‘hit the bottom’ in 2018 F1 – Sainz

Carlos Sainz is confident McLaren will put itself back on track in 2019. Flavio Briatore, who is a manager of...

2018 F14 days ago

F1 engine rules are the most complicated – Prost

F1 needs to get back to basics in order to spice up the show, according to Alain Prost. Now a...

2018 F14 days ago

Vettel-Ferrari collapse ‘incomprehensible’ – Doornbos

Former F1 driver Robert Doornbos has joined those who are critical of Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s handling of their 2018...

2018 F14 days ago

Webber hopes Indycar move right for Alonso

Fernando Alonso says he still has not decided what he will be doing in 2019. Frustrated with modern F1 and...

Most Popular is not affiliated with Formula 1, Formula One Management, Formula One Administration, Formula One Licensing BV, Formula One World Championship Ltd or any other organization or entity associated with the official Formula One governing organizations or their shareholders. Copyrighted material used under Fair Use/Fair Comment.

We could use the following leading F1 news sources for stories: SkyF1, BBC F1, Autosport, ESPN F1, FIA Media Center, MotorSport, JamesAllen and others leading authors blog.

All Rights Reserved © 2017 Prime Sport Media