As he casts his eye over the state of affairs in F1 2010 thus far, the musings of the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone do not make for pleasant reading for three of its leading protagonists – as he opines that Lewis Hamilton 'has been disappointing' and reveals that he wagered pre-season that neither returning grand prix legend Michael Schumacher nor reigning world champion Jenson Button would win a race this year.
As things stand, of course, Button is the only multiple winner of the campaign to-date – courtesy of the McLaren-Mercedes star's inspired tactical triumphs in both Australia and China – Schumacher is finally beginning to display some small semblance of his old self and Hamilton has set about establishing a new record for just how many overtaking moves you can make in a modern-day F1 race. Not, Ecclestone confesses, that such bravado has greatly impressed him.
“I'm a fan as much as anything,” the British billionaire told The Daily Telegraph
. “I particularly like Sebastian Vettel. Michael [Schumacher] looks in...good shape, too. He looked great in Barcelona. People were too quick to write him off. Why pick on him? His return has been brilliant for Formula 1. I was stupid enough to have a bet with someone that neither Jenson nor Michael would win a race this season – now I'm out-of-pocket.
“Hamilton has been disappointing. He was unlucky in the last race, but that's what happens when things are going badly for you. People praise his overtaking, but you don't get any points for passing cars.”
Explaining the secret to his sprightly nature at nearly 80-years-of-age as having 'never' drunk or smoked, Ecclestone went on to hint that retirement is not something on the agenda – “I'm happy doing what I do...the minute I didn't think I could deliver or wasn't doing a good job I would stop, but none of those things are happening,” he reasons – and shed some light upon his relationships with two of the top flight's most high-profile recent departures, controversial former FIA President Max Mosley and disgraced 'Singapore-gate' protagonist Flavio Briatore.
“We don't need the [FIA] President getting involved in stuff that doesn't concern him,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive urged. “Yes, I miss having Flav about the place. He is good company and he was good for this sport. People associated him with F1. He was a character.
“We miss Max, too. Max got a lot more right than wrong. The biggest problem Max had was that he couldn't package things in a nice way. You tell people to take it or leave it and it doesn't work. It's quieter now at the FIA, which is how we like it.”