Former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has joined those who believe Lewis Hamilton should have been more harshly penalized for his clash with title rival Max Verstappen at Silverstone.
One round of the former F1 supremo’s criticism had already reached Hamilton prior to the incident, when Ecclestone said the Mercedes driver is no longer “the fighter he was.” But now, while yachting off the coast of Croatia with his wife and 1-year-old child, 90-year-old Ecclestone is offering his two cents on Formula 1’s latest big controversy.
“Lewis’ actions did not surprise me,” Ecclestone told veteran F1 journalist Roger Benoit. “After five defeats, he had fallen into a deep mental depression and lacked the necessary concentration.
“And since Max is always rock hard, Hamilton played poker and went all-in,” Ecclestone told European media outlet Blick newspaper.
Ecclestone was highly critical of the stewards’ decision to impose only a 10-second time penalty for the incident that left Verstappen briefly in hospital.
“What you could do is let the two best drivers loose and then talk about a racing accident,” Ecclestone said. “But if they think it was dangerous, then a 10-second penalty is a joke. I would have given at least a 30-second penalty.”
Ultimately, Ecclestone thinks the situation ended firmly in British GP winner Hamilton’s favor, as he slashed his championship deficit from 33 to just eight points.
“We can’t see inside their heads, but for me, Hamilton is now the championship favorite again,” Ecclestone said. “Some time ago, Lewis only extended his contract until 2023 because he saw the title slipping away. But now his eighth title is back in sight.
“That’s the only reason why he’s still there.”
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