The Mercedes driver earned plaudits in his first year with the team last season by outperforming Lewis Hamilton.

But this year he sits eighth in the F1 standings behind both Red Bulls, Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, both Ferraris and Lando Norris.

“I can’t make up my mind about him,” ex-F1 boss Ecclestone told the Daily Mail about Russell.

“I like him. He is super-talented.

“It is a matter of what he is prepared to do to win. He was hoping Carlos Sainz would run out of road [at the Singapore Grand Prix]. 

“He was pushing very, very hard. I don’t think he thinks his race through, something Lewis does do.”

Russell’s victory at last season’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix is Mercedes’ sole win since 2021, a brief ray of light in a dreadful period.

Both Mercedes drivers penned fresh contracts to remain at the team until the end of 2025 and the “needle” between them was commented upon by Sky Sports TV pundits after last weekend’s F1 Japanese Grand Prix, when their differing strategies became a talking point.

Ecclestone, now aged 92, has picked out another F1 prodigy as the best driver to target.

“If I were a team owner, I think I’d get hold of the Australian kid,” he said about Oscar Piastri, McLaren’s rookie driver.

“He’s very good. But Max Verstappen is the best I have ever seen.”

Piastri and Norris have profited from a major leap in performance from McLaren across the past few races, and the Aussie claimed his first F1 podium last weekend in Japan.