Ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has advised Lewis Hamilton to accept a £20 million payoff and quit F1 after his underwhelming start to the 2022 campaign.
Hamilton sits only sixth in the drivers’ championship, 34 points behind new Mercedes teammate George Russell.
The British driver remains winless this season and could go 10 races without a grand prix victory for the first time in his career at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Ecclestone was the figurehead of F1 for nearly 40 years before moving aside when Liberty Media completed their takeover of the sport in 2017.
The former F1 boss gave his opinion on Hamilton’s form and his future in the sport.
“Lewis might sell his position to Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal],” he told the Daily Mail. “This is how much I am getting, I’ll step down and give me half of what I would get. Toto can go and do one of his magic deals, offer someone less money and keep £20m.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada,
“Nobody needs to tell Toto this because he has already thought of it. Lewis would probably stop under those circumstances.
“I don’t know what he is doing dressing up in all those funny clothes. Has he a deal to it? Is it to get noticed? Maybe that’s it.”
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Russell has flourished this year with nine consecutive top five finishes to put him fourth in the championship standings.
Ecclestone admitted he was surprised by how well Russell has done at Mercedes.
“I didn’t think he was that good but he has done an excellent job,” he added. “I’m surprised. Or is it a case of Lewis doing a bad job? A bit of both.
“Toto is getting a bit fed up with Lewis. I don’t think he’s trying, do you? Let’s put it another way, Lewis doesn’t seem bothered about losing. It’s not like him. He has a competitive nature but he’s taking losing a bit easy for my liking.”
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Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada,
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The 91-year-old also questioned Hamilton’s post-race back pain in Azerbaijan.
The seven-time champion was visibly in agony following the race in Baku earlier this month due to the severe bouncing on the straights.
“All bulls—,” he said. “George is taller and if it was going to happen to anyone it would have happened to him.
“There was a bit of Nigel Mansell about it. At least with Nigel, he would get out of the car and rub his left leg as if he had broken it. Next moment, it would be his right leg.”