Hamilton ’slacked off’ in recent years - Ecclestone

And "Russell wasn’t as good as he thought he was"


19 January 2024 - 09:57
Hamilton 'slacked off' (...)

Mercedes will struggle to return to the very front in Formula 1 this year - and not just because Red Bull is technically superior.

That is the view of former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who hailed Red Bull’s patience and progress through Mercedes’ dominant years to become the sport’s new force.

"They patiently endured the Mercedes victories of previous years, replacing each weak link one by one," the 93-year-old told the German magazine Sport Bild.

"They now have the best team, the best design, the best car, the best driver. They did an excellent job," Ecclestone added.

And he thinks Red Bull will win again in 2024.

"’The trend is your friend’ doesn’t just apply to the stock market," he smiled. "But if anyone can do it, it will be Ferrari. Not Mercedes, and not just because of the car.

"Lewis Hamilton slacked off a bit, and George Russell wasn’t as good as he thought he was," Ecclestone charged. "Still, they shouldn’t have lost as dramatically as they did."

Ecclestone thinks the ace card for Red Bull is obvious - Max Verstappen.

"Max is the measure of all things at the moment," he said. "You could put him in a McLaren or probably a Ferrari or a Mercedes and he would win."

The diminutive Briton admits that Lando Norris is a truly top driver in the McLaren, but insisted: "What impresses me most is this young Australian Oscar Piastri.

"He’ll be a champion one day."

What doesn’t impress Ecclestone, however, is the way the now-sacked Gunther Steiner handled the bungled F1 race career of Michael Schumacher’s son Mick.

"He was never given the opportunity to show what he could do," said Ecclestone. "Mick was lost on the wrong team with the wrong people.

"The people there (at Haas) took him because of his name," he charged. "They were never interested in how good or bad he was."

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