The ex-F1 supremo, 92, is in the paddock at the F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix for the first time since saying Russian president Vladimir Putin is “a first class person” and defending Nelson Piquet’s racist comment about Hamilton.

Next year Ecclestone will stand trial accused of failing to declare more than £400 million.

The CRAZY life of Bernie Ecclestone | Crash.Net F1 2022

What Ecclestone said about Hamilton and Verstappen

"Max doesn't play games," he told RTL. "He's there to win races and win the world championship and he's doing just that. 

“Nothing is stopping him from doing what he wants to do.

“Whether he will win more titles depends on whether the team really improves. All the guys who win the championship have to rely on the teamIf they don't have the support of the team, they won't make it. 

“If he keeps that up, the team will continue to support him and there's nothing stopping them from continuing to win.

"Everything is good at the moment and there is no reason why it shouldn't get better.”

Verstappen has won back-to-back titles despite the overshadowing of the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the F1 cost cap row.

What Ecclestone said about Schumacher

He commented on Haas driver Mick Schumacher whose future remains unclear: “Maybe he needs to forget F1 and focus on other motorsport series.

“His name is his biggest burden, but he is trying to live up to it as best he can. And that’s what brings him all the problems.

“That’s why: forget about it and win in another category.”

Ecclestone said about Schumacher’s hopes of staying with Haas in the F1 2023 driver line-up: “I don’t think he is in.

“People were disappointed with his performance – whether it was down to him or the team, we don’t know.”

Schumacher responded via Bild: “It’s hard to forget Formula 1. I love it too much so I won’t do that.

“Everyone always has an opinion on everything. I care about the opinions of the people I care about.

“Of course my family. And a few other people from Formula 1. For example, Sebastian Vettel. Those are the opinions that matter to me.”

What Ecclestone said about Vettel

He said about Aston Martin driver and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who will retire at the end of this season: "He has changed.

"When I first met him, he was a little boy. Very shy and very polite. 

"Now he's grown into a real man who knows how to take care of himself, knows what he wants to do and who goes on and does it.

"So it's a different Sebastian.

"I don't know what made him change his direction and attitude.

"Before, he always had an opinion that he didn't mention to the people. Now he has an outlet for his opinion, so he lets people know what he thinks. He wants to help everyone and the world in any way he can.

"I just miss him as a person and as a racer."