Formula One Features
Hamilton can become one of the F1 greats, says Ecclestone
Oct 18, 2007, 15:51 GMT
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes walks through the paddock at the Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 18 October 2007. The Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix will take place here 21 October. EPA/GERO BRELOER
Sao Paulo/London - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton can become one of the sport's greats in the coming years.
The 22-year-old Briton heads into Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix leading the drivers' with 107 points, followed by McLaren- Mercedes team-mate Alonso on 103 and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on 100.
If he comes first or second in Brazil or if both Alonso and Raikkonen fail to finish, Hamilton will become F1's youngest ever world champion at 22 years as well as the first driver to win the title in his rookie season.
Not surprisingly, Ecclestone believes his compatriot can go on to become an F1 legend, even going as far as to compare him to seven- time world champion Michael Schumacher.
'Both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are like Michael Schumacher,' Ecclestone told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in an exclusive interview.
'They are both people who wish to succeed and win and fight for their position to become champions,' he said.
'I do not see any reason why Lewis Hamilton should not be as successful as Michael Schumacher was.'
The 76-year-old also said he felt the 100-million-dollar fine handed out to McLaren in the wake of the spying scandal was the lesser of two evils.
'As harsh as it may seem, this is the 'better' option,' Ecclestone said.
'The only other alternative would have meant them being excluded from the 2008 (championship) and although this wouldn't have affected them financially, it would still have cost them an awful lot more.'
As well as the fine for having secret Ferrari documents in their possession, the FIA World Council docked McLaren all points the British-German team had in the constructors' standings, handing Ferrari a 15th title.
'I do think that it is a pity that it got so much global exposure but unfortunately this is the way it is with F1 - it is a very popular sport,' said Ecclestone of the scandal that rocked the sport this season.
At least there is still everything to fight for in the drivers' title race this weekend at Interlagos as Hamilton and Alonso were allowed keep their points.
'It would be a phenomenal experience to go to Brazil and win the world championship there,' said Hamilton.
'I have a great team and I know what it feels like to lose it so I will do everything in my power and dedication to win.'© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur