Lewis Hamilton could potentially do more for the image of F1 as world champion than either Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen, according to Bernie Ecclestone.
The F1 supremo has given a characteristically colourful interview to the BBC’s Sportsweek show on Radio Five Live, which made headlines after he claimed the best thing for London’s 2012 Olympic plans would be disruption by an earthquake.
But that drew attention from some far more interesting comments that suggested he does not feel either Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen, world champions for the last three years, have acted in the wider interests of the sport.
He hinted that he felt the personable Hamilton, who goes out of his way to fulfil team commitments and make time for his fans, would do a better job than either as an ambassador for F1.
Asked if it would be good for the sport in Britain if Hamilton won the championship, he said: â€œUnfortunately I can’t just think of Britain, I have to think of worldwide.
â€œWhether it would be good for Lewis to win the championship, I think the answer is yes. I think it would be very acceptable.
â€œ[Alonso and Raikkonen] have not acted like world champions. Don’t forget Michael [Schumacher] was world champion a few times so he grew into it. His early days, you know…
â€œThey are not available, not accessible, don’t want to talk to people, don’t want to do anything. I don’t know whether [Raikkonen] has ever been in love with [the sport].â€
• Ecclestone also had some illuminating points to make about the 2010 British Grand Prix. Nothing we haven’t heard before but he really is leaving no room for doubt on the subject.
He said: â€œ[Donington Park has] got a contract to say that it has to happen in 2010. So if they comply with the terms of the contract, good.â€
When asked if he agreed that there was a huge amount of work to be done, he said: â€œOh yeah, sure. They are going to rebuild the place.â€
Next Sportsweek presenter Garry Richardson asked: â€œIf that doesn’t happen, Bernie, would the door be open to switch it back to Silverstone, or is there just no British Grand Prix?â€
He replied: â€œWell, no British Grand Prix. If Silverstone couldn’t do this before, why can they do it now? We’ve been playing around with them for six or seven years.â€
â€œWe’ve scaled back so much for them, and we’ve agreed to accept something from them which we shouldn’t really have agreed to do to keep things at Silverstone. But it hasn’t happened.â€
Asked if he was effectively saving the British Grand Prix by switching it, he said: â€œOh yeah, sure, one hundred per cent. If there’s no Donington then there’s no British Grand Prix for sure.â€
So there you are, folks. It’s Donington or bust.