Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Hamilton “wouldn’t survive” alongside Leclerc at Ferrari – Ecclestone

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton would risk being eclipsed by Charles Leclerc the way Sebastian Vettel has if he moved to Ferrari, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The former Formula 1 CEO believes Vettel remains one of the sport’s top drivers despite his troubled 2019 campaign in which he was out-scored by team mate Leclerc.

“Has he gone off a little bit,” Ecclestone told Autocar, “and if so why? Probably the way he’s sort of been dealt within the team.”

“He was sort of number one in the team,” said Ecclestone. “All of a sudden the kid from nowhere that nobody’s heard of comes along and performs, and everyone fell in love with him at Ferrari.

“So I think it probably felt a little bit… I mean I’m very close with him and we don’t talk about things like that, but I think behind things, he would never say it but perhaps he feels a little bit that he’d been put on the back burner a little bit.”

Ecclestone named Vettel, Hamilton and Max Verstappen as the top drivers in F1 at the moment. But the backing they get from their teams is vital, he added.

“All these guys are as good as the support they get. Lewis has got the maximum support. There’s not one thing missing from what he’s got behind him.”

A move to Ferrari would risk losing the status Hamilton enjoys within his current team, Ecclestone believes.

“He’s used to being more or less in a lot of ways in charge. And I think if he went to Ferrari, if their number two, what they consider semi number one, continues to perform he wouldn’t survive there.

“Because if they fell in love with Leclerc, that’s what will happen. And they’d bury him.”

Read Autocar’s in-depth interview with Bernie Ecclestone in the next issue of the magazine, due out on Wednesday.

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66 comments on “Hamilton “wouldn’t survive” alongside Leclerc at Ferrari – Ecclestone”

  1. Bernie’s talking cr*p again. Lewis would blow Leclerc away. Leclerc would learn a lot from Hamilton and become a better driver in the longer-term. But right now Hamilton is the complete driver and the best.

    1. I must admit it does look like Mr Ecclestone is writing the historical account for Sebastian.
      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charles win some races if Lewis went to Ferrari, but I would be surprised to see him win more than Lewis, at least for the next few years anyway.

      1. You have seen it with Rosberg, if you push Lewis at the right points he panicks and crumbles.
        Lewis under pressure is an inconfident paranoid, every sound becomes something wrong with the car, his driving gets riddled with mistakes.
        It is a damn shame that noone was able to put pressure on Lewis except for Rosberg in this hybrid era.

        1. It wasn’t Lewis’s fault his engine blew up to cost him the title.

          1. Thru the fog of memory: in Malaysia it sure was.

          2. Nico had far worse reliability gremlins in 2014 while fighting for title, remove the tinfoil hat already and that stupidity of 1 engine failure.

          3. Chaitanya: In 2014 Ham and Ros had similar reliability over the year, with around 4 issues each. I do think 2014 was one of Rosberg’s best seasons however.

            In 2016, it wasn’t just 1 engine failure; Hamilton had engine issues in qualifying for Russia and China. As a result he took new engines and the associated penalties and started from the back in Spa, only for one of the brand new engines to fail in Malaysia, causing a 28-point swing to Rosberg. So that’s at least 4 races affected by engine issues. You can look at this article if you need a reminder of the season: https://www.racefans.net/2016/11/28/hamiltons-unreliability-stop-winning-title/

          4. of course the story still survives if you keep repeating it.
            You do not loose a championship with one or two engine problems.
            He collected less points during the season.
            That’s how you loose.

          5. Spot on bro

          6. You do not loose a championship with one or two engine problems.

            How about 3 engine problems and a back of the grid start due to engine penalties? Face it Hamilton outdrove Rosberg in 2016, just like in ’15 ’14 and ’13

        2. SadF1fan clearly doesn’t know what its like to compete in motorsport. It doesn’t matter if you’re under pressure or not, every sound is potentially something not right with the car, no matter what the situation on track. And if you’d like to link to to his driving being riddled with mistakes because of it please do enlighten us.

          Regardless of the on-track shennanigans that year Lewis reliability was pretty terrible and is what in turn ultimately handed the title to Rosberg.

        3. I don’t agree with you guys that it was just reliability that “handed” Rosberg the title @ltek, Alex roy. Rosberg did give everything he could at it, he used places where Lewis had weakspots to his advantage.

          The far bigger mistake mr. “sadf1fan” makes, is to underestimate how a great sporter like Hamilton has LEARNED since then, grown into a far more complete driver by now. Just look at how Hamilton has kept himself the last few seasons, he seemed to grow stronger with every setback. Came back stronger from any lapses and never seemed worried or riled up by mistakes from himself or the team.

          1. Fully agree there @bascb; It might well be that the 2016 Hamilton would be rattled by the 2019/2020 Leclerc, but that’s not where were we are.

            Mr. Ecclestone seemingly has some need to get into the public eye (maybe wanting good wishes/presents for the coming baby? I wish him, his wife, and the baby boy welll), but he really hasn’t much of relevance to say it seems; I have put him into the Briatore (and on many topics, dr. Marko, as in the ‘strong man image which needs him to say loud, remarkable things, which in the end matter little to the sport’) category in that I don’t feel a need to read/listen to what he says until I hear it about it as part of a response/opinion from someone who has more sense and context to embed it in.

          2. @bascb @bosyber,
            It was only that though:

            In Bahrain Hamilton got punted off by Bottas at turn 1. Dropped back to P9 and made it back to P3
            An ERS failure at the start of qualifying in China, relegating him to 22nd on the grid. He finished seventh.
            An ERS failure during Q3 in Russia, restricting the Mercedes driver to 10th on the grid. He finished second.
            An engine mode issue during the European GP. He finished fifth having started in 10th following a crash in qualifying.
            Hamilton had used all 5 of his season engine allocation by the mid way point Race 12 Spa, forcing him to start from 22nd on the grid, finished 3rd
            A hydraulics fault during Practice Two in Singapore which was cited as a critical factor in his defeat to Rosberg. He finished third.
            An engine blow-out in Malaysia which cost him an almost-certain victory.

            You might look at the score board and argue that on Q3 performance it was only 12-9 for Hamilton. Which seems rather equal indeed. Rosberg was keeping close! However if you take into account that Hamilton didn’t compete in Q3 for three of those events and only barely in Monaco, it would be fair to say that it was 12-5.

            Then keep in mind that overtaking was almost impossible. So qualifying behind would also mean that Hamilton would lose points to Rosberg. When both their cars worked, Hamilton would finish ahead 3 out of 4 races. 6 of the 9 races that Rosberg finished ahead of Hamilton were massively affected by technical issues or by being hit. So there were only 3 races over that whole season which Rosberg finished ahead of Hamilton! on merit

            That’s not Rosberg “keeping close”, that’s Rosberg being being annihilated when the game is going and then scoring goals when Hamilton was “away”.

          3. I am not interested in digging into that season here, nor the details of the year on year competition between Hamilton and Rosberg – if you want a less one sided view than what you bring up here (it LITERALLY is only things that held Hamilton back) @f1osaurus you can read the excellent article on this very site from a year or so back.

            The reason why it is nonsense to compare Hamilton vs Rosberg (last time Hamilton had a really competative fight on his hands, since Bottas is not at that level yet) is mainly that Hamilton has greatly improved in the 3 years since.

    2. Lewis was just sligthly better than Rosberg. Leclerc is another level completely.

    3. Ferrari do things the roman way, Caeser and all. Without someone to scorn internally, the team cant function.
      They love their heroes and villains.

  2. I think Hamiltons option is Mercedes. Ferrari has Leclerc Red Bull has Verstappen. They both need their own Bottas and if Hamilton decides to leave it would break that teams harmony if there would be two n.1. Only way Hamilton can move to Ferrari is if Leclerc isn’t fast enough.

    Mclaren could be an option but that’s a big risk.

    1. AMARJIT Singh
      10th April 2020, 13:15

      If people say Hamilton is that good. Go to Maclaren and see if he can do what Schumacher did at Ferarri. I don’t think he’s in that quality level. Schumacher could have gone to stronger teams. Hamilton ditched Maclaren when they were struggling Schulz went to Ferarri when they were struggling.

      1. Ambrogio Isgro
        11th April 2020, 17:02

        Well when Hamilton went to Mercedes, the team was nowhere near the tutele fight. So, of you out that in the way, he already did it.
        On the other side, Schumacher was there and he didnt won a single gp and Nico Rosberg was a Better driver during all the seasons they were mates.
        Schumacher was the best driver with Brawn and Byrne. They won together in the Benetton and in the Ferrari. And he was dominant with a clear 1st driver status (he never had a wdc team mate apart Piquet at the end of the career, so he never proved himself in that sense) and in the refuelling era.

        1. Ambrogio Isgro
          11th April 2020, 17:04

          *title fight*
          *if you put it in that way*

        2. I’s amazing how incapable some of these dudes are of seeing their own glaring bias. Lewis did exactly what he claims makes Schumacher great: I challenge ANYONE to find ANY article, video, blog… anywhere in the media where the general consensus was that it was a good idea for Lewis to have joined the Mercedes team: it was damn near universal condemnation. A Mercedes team that had Schumacher & Rosberg in it, mind you, & up until that point (post Brawn GP) had scored only 2 poles & a single lucky win. But yeah, only Schumacher got in on the ground floor. Nico Rosberg was being touted to make Hamilton look ordinary in the new, more technical cars. But what happened instead? Rosberg had to start studying Hamilton’s data & copying his setup once Hamilton had some input on the ’14 car. Meaning Rosberg couldn’t extract all the performance from the car without being shown the way by Hamilton. But Lewis gets absolutely no credit for Mercedes’ form, while Michael Schumacher is still lauded. Rosberg himself stated that Lewis is more naturally talented than Michael. But when it comes to Lewis it’s always been convenient for some to ignore facts.

  3. I disagree with Bernie this time.
    Ham and Lec would BOTH crumble before Max.. [given decent machinery]

    1. Islander, we’re all just guessing how exactly each driver might react to being in a different situation to which they are now, such that any such definite proclamations seem to be motivated more by personal preferences and the worshipful like faith that some put into the almost cult-like following of their heroes.

      Fans might like to put such dramatic hyperbolae into their descriptions of how they think their favourites might perform, from “crumbling” to “destroyed” to whatever other description they want to put.
      In reality, though, people tend to heavily exaggerate the differences – people talk about, say, Leclerc “destroying” Vettel last year, but it’s not as if the gap between Leclerc and Vettel was, say, like that of Alonso versus Yoong when they were at Minardi (where the difference in performance was more in the order of seconds rather than tenths of a second), and that is even with Vettel having had a few seasons with somewhat flawed performances.

      As an aside, what exactly do you mean by “given decent machinery”? We’re talking about one of the “Big Three” teams in the sport that has managed to produce race winning cars in all but one year of the last decade – when you look at the cars he has had at his disposal, it’s not like he’s been trying to compete with a car of the sort of competitiveness of, say, the McLaren MCL34, he’s been competing with a car that is in the same sort of performance bracket as those of his rivals.

      Just as it seems that there is a tendency to overhype the differences in performance between drivers, so it seems the same happens for cars as well. Then again, I guess that the tendency to hype up the former also leads to an exaggeration of the latter – in that the belief that, say, a driver in one team is beating a favourite driver in another one must therefore be taken as proof that the car is vastly superior, in that it allows the faith in a favourite driver to be maintained without question.

    2. Seen that Max and Leclerc did battle with each other and Max got the advance of him Max would be much better then Charles in the same car. But i don’t think that is the same with Lewis as Lewis is very experienced that will be more 50/50 with Lewis just edging Max in the same car. But Lewis gets older and will get a bit slower so max will be faster as time proceed to next year.

      I think you mean decent machinery equals the same car or a car with the same performance.

    3. @Islander, I think you missed the point. This is about what happens if Hamilton becomes Leclerc’s team-mate, compared to what happens if they remain at separate teams. Verstappen himself has refuted any interest in attempting this (he thinks having two “alphas” at the same time would be poor team management) – so unless you are suggesting Max might get turfed out of Red Bull (extremely unlikely), he will be staying put, at a team which we know likes him a lot (for good reason), and not facing the possibility of being at a team who prefers a different driver.

      1. Not quite, I was imagining Ham and Lec as Ferrari team mates, which I think will happen soon. And Ferrari being Ferrari, Lewis will no longer have the best in car performance and race strategy calls.

        I repeat: Lewis and Lec will both loose out together, if and it’s a big if, RB give Max a winning car.

        1. Even if Verstappen has a race winning car he only wins half of the races. Last season Verstappen should have won Monaco, Hungary and Mexico, but he didn’t. He “only” won the three other races where he had the (remaining) fastest car.

  4. Hamilton has one major weakness – he crumbles if the team and everything around him isn’t perfect. He would quit Ferrari after one season due to operational mistakes because he isn’t used to them and, pampered by Mercedes in recent years, he wouldn’t know how to deal with pressure anymore. You can disagree, but that is pretty much the only thing you can do since we have no empirical evidence that it wouldn’t be true.

    1. 2016 he had some problems even within mercedes….

    2. The year Rosberg became champion showed Hamiltons true-self.
      It takes a lot to put Lewis under the pressure, but once he is, it is like a house of cards coming down.
      His personality changes alot from the one he tries to keep up as an appearance, self doubt, car paranoia, starts to mistrust his engineer, moans on the radio for ever.

      1. Lewis copped numerous penalties due to car failures. With his back to the wall due to major car failures he won race after race, thrashing Rosberg. Get your facts right.

        1. The fact is Lewis didn’t really handle the pressure of failure well and lost that championship.

          1. That’s not really a fact though is it.

          2. @ferrox-glideh The fact is that Hamilton destroyed Rosberg in 2016. When they had equally working cars. It’s just that Hamilton had so many more technical issues than Rosberg had.

          3. Lewis cracked just like Nico cracked before him

        2. Rosberg won the opening 4 rounds, Hamilton won 6 of the next 7 (Rosberg 1) Then Rosberg won 4 in 5 again (Hamilton none). After that, Rosberg only needed second places, so why risk car failures or a DNF to beat Hamilton?

          Hamilton did not loose his title because of reliability. He lost his title because he wasn’t fast enough in any of those 9 races. He needed to win one race more and could have done so. Instead he wasted time insisting the team was working against him and how he would wright a book about it.

          1. Yet he won more races. Had more podiums and took more poles!

            Don’t rewrite history LH lost by the equivalent of less than a point in old money. He has lost two the same way but in 16 he was effectively stuffed in four of the races. That a 20% head start for the only other challenger and he only just did it.

            A couple of iffy starts when Rosberg had the same along with ‘not being fast enough’ in nine of the races? Absolute ridiculousness from the usual crowd. Rosberg won. He did not beat him under any equal circumstance. As a point Rosberg was officially the very worst driver in terms of penalties that year.

            It’s worth noting how few times Rosberg had qualifying issues that kept him from the front row in comparison to Hamilton across their time.

            Beat him my bottom….

          2. Rosberg won those first 4 rounds also because Hamilton had technical issues. Only the race in Australia did Rosberg actually win on “performance”. By pushing Hamilton off track.

            In Bahrain Hamilton got punted off by Bottas at turn 1. Dropped back to P9 and made it back to P3
            An ERS failure at the start of qualifying in China, relegating him to 22nd on the grid. He finished seventh.
            An ERS failure during Q3 in Russia, restricting the Mercedes driver to 10th on the grid. He finished second.
            An engine mode issue during the European GP. He finished fifth having started in 10th following a crash in qualifying.
            Hamilton had used all 5 of his season engine allocation by the mid way point Race 12 Spa, forcing him to start from 22nd on the grid, finished 3rd
            A hydraulics fault during Practice Two in Singapore which was cited as a critical factor in his defeat to Rosberg. He finished third.
            An engine blow-out in Malaysia which cost him an almost-certain victory.

          3. @Tim Lemmens That is just how I remember it too.

      2. Hamilton’s season of disproportionate reliability compared to his team mate is his true self.

        Not the 6 world titles, 84 wins, 88 poles or 47 fastest laps.

        😂😂

        Back to sanity, I’d like to see him alongside Leclerc as I think it would be a great contest.

      3. I think we watched a different season. Hamilton had a poor start and Rosberg an incredible start.

        But once Hamilton dug deep and came back he had an exceptional later season. But for suffering the only reliability issue he would have had an almighty comeback.

        Not to take anything away from Rosberg, he had a championship worthy season, but it took everything he had, Hamilton delivers that every year.

        1. @philipgb

          This describes 3 of those first 4 races:

          In Bahrain Hamilton got punted off by Bottas at turn 1. Dropped back to P9 and made it back to P3
          An ERS failure at the start of qualifying in China, relegating him to 22nd on the grid. He finished seventh.
          An ERS failure during Q3 in Russia, restricting the Mercedes driver to 10th on the grid. He finished second.

        2. Hamilton learned a valuable lesson from Nico. He has been unbeatable since.

  5. obviously f1 is stronger as it is.

  6. “All of a sudden the kid from nowhere that nobody’s heard of comes along…”

    Really? From nowhere? Bravo to Bernie for still living in his F1 bubble years after F1 dispensed with him. Another attempt to keep his name in the papers.

    1. @Not George Simply because Bernie hadn’t heard of him didn’t mean the rest of us had not, you’re quite right!

  7. What truly puzzles me is that people still keep interviewing Ecclestone and still keep publishing what he says. It did make sense in the past when he was the chief executive saying crazy things, but after Liberty’s takeover he became just an senile guy saying crazy things. His opinions don’t matter any more, he feeds on controversy like the worst trolls, and I simply wish we had moved on by now.

    1. Bernie is hoping and praying his mate can return to winning by again having Ferrari sabotage Leclerc to help Vettel. The behavior of Ferrari was disgraceful. They stole Leclerc’s victory in Singapore, and gave it to the person most detrimental to Leclerc’s career – Vettel. Then Ferrari chastised Leclerc for suggesting Ferrari were in the wrong. Disgraceful.

      1. Too be fair to Ferrari Leclerc was the facto number 2 thinking something else is just wrong. That Leclerc had a good season had nothing to do with Ferrari decison to favor Vettel.

      2. Alex Roy, looking back at that race, let us not forget that Red Bull were gearing up to pit Verstappen on lap 19 with the intention of trying to use the undercut to get him up the grid – a tactic which did ultimately work, given that Mercedes’s decision to stay out and trying to stretch the first stint did not work.

        If Ferrari left Vettel out, then you’re allowing him to be leapfrogged by Verstappen – from the point of view of the team, the most logical strategy is to pull Vettel in at the same time, thus negating the advantage that Verstappen might gain.

        What else should have Ferrari done – left Vettel out and thrown his position away to Verstappen, letting him catch up with Leclerc? If they did that, then people would be calling them idiots for pointlessly throwing away his position – and, realistically, nobody would have expected Vettel to make up that much time on Leclerc, particularly given that Leclerc also had the advantage of a faster pit stop (Vettel’s stop was 0.2s slower than Leclerc’s stop was).

    2. @gsagostinho Because people still read what Bernie has to say, and it’s a bit of a slow news month for physical (as opposed to electronic/virtual) sports.

  8. Bernie sticking up for his friend Seb. I like Seb but to say that Ferrari favouring Charles has led to Seb’s poor performance is stretching it. 2017 and 2018 made enough of a case that Kimi had to go and a better driver had to replace him. Charles’ arrival only showed that it wasnt just Kimi but also Seb who needed to up his game. A comparatively better car and RB not able to pull things together made Seb look much better in those 2 years even though his mistakes were very obvious. Ferrari must be just happy that they have a driver who is not just fast but doesnt spin as soon as he sees Lewis or Max in his mirrors.

  9. AMARJIT Singh
    10th April 2020, 13:19

    If people say Hamilton is that good. Go to Maclaren and see if he can do what Schumacher did at Ferarri. I don’t think he’s in that quality level. Schumacher could have gone to stronger teams. Hamilton ditched Maclaren when they were struggling Schulz went to Ferarri when they were struggling.

  10. Leclerc is very likeable but him beating Lewis at this point in his career is laughable. He barely beat an erratic Vettel last season. Let him win a Championship or closely fight for one and then he could in the conversation.

    1. @amg44 Yeah that’s pretty much where I’m at too on this. I personally have not jumped on the Leclerc bandwagon as I think he has everything to prove yet. But aside from the fact that I don’t believe for one second that LH will go to Ferrari in the handful of years he has left in F1, especially after this global disruption, I also see no reason to think he’d have to take some sort of back seat to CL. It’s nonsensical, but then to me so is an 89 year old having a child who will inevitably lose their father while still very much in their youth.

  11. I don’t recall this many Bernie stories even when he was in charge. Thanks a lot Covid-19.

    1. @phillyspur – indeed :)

      From him featuring in the round-up some days ago, we’ve now got an entire article on his utterances.

      As if there wasn’t enough reason to hate this virus…

      1. @phylyp – he is like virus for which no one has developed an effective inoculation.

  12. Massa said the opposite recently. Which makes more sense to me.

  13. Leclerc is beter than Hamilton. Hamilton will never agree to team up with Leclerc.

    1. Why would Hamilton agree to go to a constantly losing team? Given he has always had the power of the Todts behind him you would have thought Leclerc would have at least tried to get into the Mercs.

  14. Why do people think Leclerc is so great anyway? He’s a decent driver, but he barely beat Vettel. While Ricciardo utterly trashed Vettel.

    Leclerc makes too many mistakes and he just doesn’t perform consistently. He can get pole and then be completely useless during the race. Probably because he’s focussing his setup to much on Q3 then, but still.

    The more complete drivers like Hamilton and Verstappen can set a decent Q3 and still have great race pace. They don’t have to compromise too much on Q3 endangering their race result.

  15. Oh Bernie, Up Yours!

  16. I have to agree with Bernie. Hamilton struggled to put away Button and was Rosberg beat him in 2016 with the same machinery.

    For mine, Verstappen is the quickest driver on the grid and has never relied on teammate support as Hammy has.

  17. Jim Whittaker
    14th April 2020, 5:46

    The only reason Rosberg won his solitary championship is because he forced Hamilton off the circuit in Spain when Hamilton was overtaking him, if he hadn’t done that Hamilton would have won the championship by 2 points despite Mercedes switching his engineers and all the other problems he had that season. Because Hamilton spun on the grass he took both Mercedes out otherwise he would have driven away from Rosberg again. Rosberg escaped any punishment from both the FIA and the stewards for that incident, although Hamilton is never going to get anything from the Spanish stewards due to their natural racism towards anyone with a dark skin because of their subjugation by the Moores centuries earlier. Let’s not forget that Mr. Ecclestone with his divine wisdom moved the British GP from July to April then complained because of the weather, it’s just a shame it didn’t snow (like it has in April many times before) to show what a barmpot the old duffer is. It’s no coincidence that the new order in F1 got shut of him! Oh and let’s not forget double points for the last race of the season to try to get Rosberg a championship win.
    Lewis Hamilton has beaten every teammate he’s had in Formula 1, including a 2 time championship winner (Alonso) in his rookie season.

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