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Ecclestone has major doubts over Ferrari move for Hamilton


BERNIEECCL­ESTONE has said he would be surprised if Ferrari pulled off the biggest transfer in recent Formula One memory by signing Lewis Hamilton – and believes it is Mercedes or bust for the British driver. Hamilton’s future in the sport remains under scrutiny with six months to run on his current £40m-a-year deal at Mercedes.

Both Hamilton, 38, and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff have said they expect a new deal will be agreed.

A national newspaper this week reported that Ferrari are preparing a blockbuste­r bid for Hamilton – which could involve a swap deal with Charles Leclerc – while La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed Hamilton has already received an offer from the Italian team.

Speaking to the PA news agency, F1’s former supremo Ecclestone, who remains well connected in the sport, said: “I would be surprised that Ferrari would want to get rid of Leclerc to sign Lewis because they are very much in love with Leclerc.

“Lewis has said that when he does decide to stop he would still want to be connected with Mercedes so it would surprise me if he wanted to leave.

“And if I was Lewis and I saw that Leclerc is happy to leave Ferrari, I would think there has to be a problem there.

“I also don’t know why Lewis would think he would be better off at Ferrari than where he is at the moment. He knows everything well and truly at Mercedes. They know him, and they have a lot of respect for him so he couldn’t be better looked after anywhere.

“Ferrari is not a retirement home

either. They want to win the world championsh­ip more than anyone. So, personally, I think he will stay as Mercedes, or he will retire.”

Hamilton is gearing up for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix and is set to address his future in the Principali­ty on Thursday.

The seven-time world champion qualified 13th at the last race in Miami before driving well to finish sixth, but he is already 63 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the championsh­ip standings.

“I don’t know what has happened to Mercedes and how they have suddenly got in the state that they find themselves in the moment,” added Ecclestone, 92 (right).

“I can understand Lewis being frustrated because he has been there for all that time and done well for Mercedes and for himself. But his contract is a lot of money to walk away from and that is a big problem.

“The only place Lewis can go to win that eighth world championsh­ip is Red Bull, but for sure there is no room there. It is impossible. There is no chance.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team will bring a major upgrade to the sixth round of the season in

Monaco, but

Wolff has already warned his superstar driver that his new machinery will not haul him into championsh­ip contention.

“It won’t be a silver bullet because from my experience, they do not exist in our sport,” Wolff said.

“We hope that it gives the drivers a more stable and predictabl­e platform. Then we can build on that in the weeks and months ahead.

“F1 is tough competitio­n and a meritocrac­y. We are not where we want to be but there’s no sense of entitlemen­t. It’s just about hard work to get us to the front.”

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 ?? ?? Seven-time world champions Lewis Hamilton, right, has been tipped for a potential move to Ferrari
Seven-time world champions Lewis Hamilton, right, has been tipped for a potential move to Ferrari

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