Bernie Ecclestone accuses Lewis Hamilton of 'bullying' Max Verstappen

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are level heading into the final race. - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are level heading into the final race. - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been accused of “bullying” Max Verstappen by former Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone, whose decades-long reign transformed F1 into a multi-billion-pound sport, said Hamilton and his team were “not playing fair” and claimed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had sought to influence race officials.

The 91-year-old spoke out ahead of Sunday’s winner-takes-all season finale, which will take place a week after Hamilton beat Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in a race littered with controversy.

That included seven-time champion Hamilton colliding with the back of Verstappen’s car when the Dutchman was ordered to slow down and allow the Briton to overtake him, before the Red Bull driver was hit with two separate time penalties and points on his racing licence.

“Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him,” Ecclestone said. “They have been pushing down all the time on Max and then the race directors have been looking in because Toto goes to the race director.

“Max has more than a race to confront as he has them too on his back because they are bullying him and not playing fair. It is psychological game-playing.”

Mercedes declined to comment when contacted by Telegraph Sport. Ecclestone added: “Max has had a few years of racing but has not had years in the streets like Lewis. It has built character and knowing he would win the race with Mercedes being the dominant force over the past few years has made him a much stronger character than Max.

“For Max, this season is the first one he has had a car capable of winning regularly, whereas before it was nothing like competitive.”

Hamilton and Verstappen go into Sunday’s race level on points, and Ecclestone said: “It is good for the sport. I think people have known full well in previous years who was going to win.

“But this has been an incredible year. This year, it has been good to have something a little bit different.

“There is nothing wrong with Lewis – he has done the best he can but he has had a lot of help.”

Ecclestone said even victory on Sunday would not make Hamilton the greatest driver of all time.

“I always thought Alain Prost was really and truly the best,” he said. “He drove the car alone without any help. He had to look after everything during a race and he always had a driver in the other team car who was very, very competent.”

He added of Hamilton: “He would certainly be in the top five. He is still an extremely talented and very shrewd driver. If he turns to business, he will be as shrewd.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting