The seven-time world champion has not won a race since the Spanish Grand Prix in May and has fallen 32 points behind main title rival Max Verstappen, who arrives into this weekend’s British Grand Prix off the back of a hat-trick of victories.

In an interview with The Guardian in the build-up to this weekend’s race at Silverstone, former F1 supremo Ecclestone questioned Hamilton’s fighting spirit following his run of successive defeats to Red Bull’s Verstappen.

“I have spoken to lots of people about this and perhaps Lewis is not quite the fighter that he was,” Ecclestone said. “There are lots of occasions this year where he could have done better and he hasn’t.

“He hasn’t had any competition, the equipment has always been super, and he hasn’t really had to make the effort. But now maybe he is thinking that he better take it a bit easier.

“At the beginning of the year I thought he would look to win the championship and then retire. But it appears not, even though I wouldn’t rely too much on contracts. He can escape from that.

“He probably had a look at the clothing range and music but realised that it is not as easy to make money there as it is in Formula 1.”

Hamilton was asked to respond to Ecclestone’s remarks when he faced the media during the FIA press conferences on Thursday at Silverstone.

“I actually wasn’t aware of it until I arrived this weekend,” Hamilton explained.

“Honestly, this has been such an interesting week. We had the football which was exciting for one moment, and then obviously quite difficult afterwards, although the positive support subsequently has been amazing. And then with the [Hamilton] Commission, I’ve just been focused on that.

“No one is sidetracking me. I’m definitely not the driver I was when I started, I think I’m better and I know myself way more than I ever did.”