Ecclestone Rebukes Hamilton, Promises to Stay Longer on the Job

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The 81-year old Formula 1 boss gives grades to drivers at the end of the season and says not to write him off just yet.

It is the recess time now in Formula 1, and anybody who can afford it is on holiday, so there is only one person left to speak his mind and mark the drivers for the performances from the past season. His name is Bernie Ecclestone and he is the boss of Formula One Management (FOM). In an interview with the, Ecclestone praised the World Champion Sebastian Vettel for being "super - a nice guy, very talented, good for the sport."

He praised McLaren's Jenson Button, saying "I'm very happy with Button this year. He's done a really good job and he's been much better as a person with the public than he was when he was the world champion, which is good, because he's a nice guy." He then ridiculed Lewis Hamilton who suffered "an uphill year. I think he had some personal problems during the year which affected him quite a lot." Ecclestone was critical of Hamilton's choice of Simon Fuller's XIX Management to manage his career, after firing his father a year earlier and described the choice as "disaster."

He said the Lewis Hamilton is influenced by people from the entertainment business and that has some negative effects on him. He singled out Hamilton's tour around the McLaren pits with Ice-T during one of the races, where the rapper/actor made fun of the McLaren car and garage. Footage later was uploaded to YouTube (and long ago removed, at Ecclestone's instigation) for poor taste and negative F1 promotion. "He (Hamilton) sees somebody like that, he admires the guy, so he'll start copying a little bit what they're up to," said Ecclestone.

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Ecclestone also denied the rumors that CVC Capital Partners, the firm that owns FOM, has appointed a headhunter firm to look for his successor. One of the candidates mentioned is Sir Stuart Rose, the former chief of British retailer Marks and Spencer. "It's all rubbish. If somebody turns up that we think can get the job done, super. If for any reason I'm not here... there will be four Ecclestones doing different parts of the job. I've been around a long time, and people trust me because I've never cheated people. I can do things that it wouldn't be easy for a new guy to do. And I'd like to live a little bit longer."

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