British business magnate and former chief executive of the Formula One Group Bernie Ecclestone says that Lewis Hamilton should still be considered the clear favourite to win the 2017 Formula 1 world championship, although his friend and regular former backgammon partner Sebastian Vettel has had a very good start of the season with Scuderia Ferrari and is currently leading the Formula 1 Driver Standings ahead of the 2017 Russian Grand Prix which takes places on Sunday:
“Sebastian called me to play a game in Bahrain.” – Bernie Ecclestone confirmed, before explaining why he thinks the Scuderia Ferrari German driver is performing much better in 2017, after a 2016 campaing in which Seb did not manage to score a win for the Maranello team: “He is more relaxed and has digested the shock. When he moved to Ferrari, he thought he would immediately be world champion. But he is past that now. However, Lewis (Hamilton) will be world champion in my opinion. I would be happy if Vettel did it, because he is a good friend of mine. But things will change during the season. Hamilton is so extremely talented, and he seems more relaxed this year, enjoying it more. In recent years he always believed that the team (Mercedes) didn’t support him, because the other driver was a German in a German team. Of course this was nonsense, but this thought is gone now and the pressure is lower.”
As for whether he thinks Valtteri Bottas is a good enough replacement for the retired F1 world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, Ecclestone added: “I don’t know. But I believe the team would be more pleased if Lewis becomes world champion, just for what he experienced last year.” – the former president and CEO of Formula One Management concluded, as reported by German national Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS).