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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Mar 2013   |  2:03 am GMT  |  102 comments

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he attempted last summer to broker a move for Lewis Hamilton to form a superteam with Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, but that it foundered on Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s loyalty to Mark Webber.

“Sebastian wouldn’t have cared if Lewis had signed for the team,’ Ecclestone told the Mail on Sunday. “Dietrich is a very honest, straightforward guy and told Mark the door was open for him to stay. That was good of him.”

Webber at the time was considering an offer from Ferrari to partner his friend Fernando Alonso, but in the end the Australian re-signed for Red Bull and then won the British Grand Prix.

At that point Ecclestone says that he advised Hamilton to go to Mercedes. And with his long time ally Niki Lauda gaining influence within Mercedes the deal was soon brokered, “Lewis rolled his eyes … but I told him that he had nothing to lose as he wanted out of McLaren,” Ecclestone told the Mail on Sunday.

Ecclestone has long had an influence on major driver moves as he moves the pieces on his chessboard to produce the strongest outcomes and there are many examples; from Michael Schumacher’s 1996 move to Ferrari to the continuation of Riccardo Patrese’s career after Williams with a move to Benetton for 1993, which caught Martin Brundle out after a competitive season alongside a young Schumacher.

He also played a significant role in Ferrari hiring Jean Todt, who was then motorsport boss of Peugeot, which was the beginning of the renaissance that won the team’s first world titles for over 20 years and led to a period of unprecedented domination of F1.

Ecclestone is not in Malaysia this weekend. China will be his first appearance of 2013.

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102 Comments
  1. Sebee says:

    Looks like Lewis has a new Manager/Agent.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes Tom Shine, formerly with Reebok. They worked together when Lewis had a Reebok deal and he’s got Shine hired by XIX Entertainment

      1. I will says:

        I am not Seb fan but HUGE respect for him. Unlike Alonso, he is confident that whoever comes to his team he doesn’t care. Confidence!.

    2. Michael says:

      Yeah, but I don’t think Lewis would be making 20 million a year at Redbull.

    3. W Johnson says:

      Is it just me that thinks it is outrageous that Bernie should be involved in such matters. One might question the neutrality of F1 as a sport.

      1. W Johnson says:

        Another example of Bernie being against McLaren! I hope Bernie never gets a gong for doing down a British racing team.

  2. Rich C says:

    Interesting that Mateschitz is so different from his henchman, motormouth Marko, isn’t it.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Interesting and good :)

    2. Kay says:

      +1

      AND nothing Marko can do about Webber staying in RBR, no matter how much blasts at Webber.

    3. Brace says:

      Ahaha “Motormouth Marko”! :)
      Thanks for a good laugh. He had one more episode today on F1 official site. :)

    4. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Perhaps your perceptions are wrong and either Deitrich is not that nice or Marko not that bad. Don’t forget, the source (Bernie) might not nessecarily want to say “oh that Deitrich, what an asshole”.

    5. Srinivas Katta says:

      Motormouth is complimentary to him.

  3. Teg says:

    Now who wouldn’t have liked to have seen a Hamilton/Vettel pairing in a Red Bull.

    Would have answered a lot of questions about the relative merits of each driver. Shame it didn’t happen.

    1. mhilgtx says:

      How many questions do you need answered about Vettel? 3 DWC’s aren’t enough?

      It’s pretty obvious Hamilton is fast, hearing him talk about how he is trying to influence Mercedes is, to me at least, proof of maturity and intelligence.

      They are both pretty close. Vettel appears more consistent.

      1. Quade says:

        I don’t think many people are convinced. The credit goes to Newey.

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        These people will never be convinced. If Hamilton had moved to Red Bull and, say, got beaten, they would find every possible excuse possible to slam Vettel and portray Hamilton as the better driver.

    2. Grant says:

      That battle would have been epic!

  4. Conspiracy theorist says:

    Yet another example of how the sport is just Bernie’s puppet show. At times it seems like we are just watching a WWE style staged show where his favourite character at the time dominates the show.

    1. Timmay says:

      Except… It didnt happen?

  5. seeing scarlet says:

    Gotta have his fingers in the pie.

  6. Prashant says:

    Putting aside Mr. E using the media to show how influential he still is in F1, I’m quite surprised RBR seriously entertained the thought last year.

    I thought it was accepted that having two extremely competitive drivers results in points being taken off each other, hindering chances of either one of them winning the championship? If HAM and VET had paired at RBR, I think it would have played nicely into ALO’s hands.

    1. Random 79 says:

      ‘Using the media to show how influential he still is in F1′

      I think you’re right – that is what he’s doing – but he might have been better off revealing a plan that had actually worked ;)

    2. Richard says:

      Actually not really just would have made Red Bull’s winning the constructors championship more likely and quicker.

    3. David says:

      Yes. But the money is given by team points. Two winners doubles the team money
      David

      1. Prashant says:

        True, but as RBR have shown, you can win the constructors and drivers with the combination they’ve got. I’m arguing that two really strong drivers (at any team) would reduce your chances of the drivers, when you could have a combination like VET and WEB and win both.

        And having two superstars can adversely affect the culture and performance of the team as a whole.

        Not saying it can never work – maybe we will get such a combo next year if WEB retires/leaves and RBR want someone as good as VET to replace him.

  7. ACx says:

    “Dietrich Mateschitz’s loyalty to Mark Webber.”

    Erm, errrr, yeah.

    So, like Schumacher’s loyalty to any team mate unable to beat him?

    Too cynical?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Yeah…a bit.

      Dietrich has nothing to prove and (virtually) no one to answer to – if he says he wants Mark gone, he’s gone, so if he says he wants Mark to stay, then I believe him.

      Also, from what I understand Michael is loyal to Massa; he has offered him advice in the past and he did a bit to help him through his rough patch after his 2009 accident.

    2. chrisnz says:

      If a driver can negotiate 1 year contracts year after year it means he must be on very good terms with his employer, and have a very solid relationship with them. I’m not sure on what basis makes you question Webber’s security within the team.

    3. Kay says:

      DM and Webber are friends on a personal level.

    4. Pete_from_Nepal says:

      I suppose thats a fair point you bring.

      I do think though that it would be easy for one of the STR drivers to get promoted and still stay as a “second” driver. Don’t have to pay them, and could also promote another youngster into STR. win-win situation. But D.M. didn’t do it.

      I think thats what is meant by “loyalty” in this context, and I think its the right word to use.

  8. Mike from Colombia says:

    Massa owes Dietrich big time! He should switch from the Guarana as a sign of respect.

  9. dansus says:

    That would have been amazing.

  10. Brian says:

    Bernie is the Emperor…nothing important happens in F1 without his approval

  11. goferet says:

    Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s loyalty to Mark Webber
    ————————————————–

    Hmm… What an interesting story!

    But in my view, I think Mateschitz didn’t make this super team work of loyalty to Vettel and not Webber (ahem Webber’s 1 year contract).

    I mean bringing in someone that’s as talented as Lewis not only brings up the possibility of Vettel getting beaten but also it has the ability to create instability in any team that already has a number 1 driver.

    Yes, I believe Bernie when he says Vettel wouldn’t have cared to have Lewis along side him but as we have seen over the last couple of years, Vettel is a competitive animal and over time of taking pain, who knows how he would have reacted.

    Now as for Webber, really don’t know what to say, he sure denied F1 fans one of those rare telenovelas for the Ferrari door was open to him and yet he decided to stay.

    It appears deep down Webber knows at Red Bull he has a fair shot at winning races and the WDC title but at Ferrari, he would have had no chance apart from being Alonso’s clear number 2 and with Webber being close mates (and having the same manager as Alonso in Flavio) I suspect he thought a Ferrari drive wasn’t worth losing a mate over.

    P.s.

    Look up the word ring master in the dictionary and you will see Bernie’s face.

    It appears there are no coincidences in F1 dealings, there’s always a puppet master pulling the strings in the background.

    1. Random 79 says:

      The one year contracts are Webber’s idea – other than that I think you’re spot on.

    2. SH says:

      Webber has stated many times in the media and interviews that the one year rolling contract is his own choice.

  12. vivek says:

    Very Interesting. If someone can provide the timeline of events which led Lewis to leave McLaren, it would be nice.

    Did he want to take a sabbatical from racing?
    And sure Vettel had no problem with Hamilton joining?
    Why in the blue hell is Mr Ecclestone doing these things? I mean he is clearly against McLaren.

    1. Richard says:

      I don’t think McLaren did themselves any favours during Ron Dennis’s time as team principal indeed while he was obviously very pro McLaren he also did upset people from time to time.

      1. W Johnson says:

        What are you talking about? Ron Dennis is McLaren. He also happens to be the team principal. Perhaps Bernie does not like Ron Dennis due to F1 commercial negotiations. All the more a reason to keep his nose out of driver negotiations.

      2. Richard says:

        Where have you been sunshine? Martin Whitmarsh has been the team principle since 2009 when Ron Dennis gave it up and became group chairman. While Dennis is undoubtably McLaren through and through, he managed to alienate many leading figures in the sport which ultimately wasn’t the cleverest thing to do. Whitmarsh while perhaps not as successful as Dennis in that role has gone some way to repairing the damage.

      3. W Johnson says:

        So who exactly did Ron Dennis alienate?????

        Max Moseley, Bernie Ecclestone?

        I would say well done if you refer to these characters!

      4. Richard says:

        You may well say well done, but ultimately not an intelligent thing to do, far better to get leading figures like that on your side rather than rub them up the wrong way as when times become fractious they are not likely to see your point of view.

  13. Andrew Kirk says:

    He helped Schumacher into Ferrari. He helped Ferrari nearly kill the sport in other words. It would be interesting to see a Vettel vs Hamilton in team battle. My money is on Lewis losing it first. He does make more mistakes in my view and over drives at times 2011 example.

  14. goferet says:

    Lewis rolled his eyes … but I told him that he had nothing to lose
    ————————————————–

    WOW!!!!!!!!!

    So Lewis isn’t in love with Mercedes or the idea of a new challenge as I originally thought >>> What a shocker!!!!!!!!!

    It appears Lewis had firmly set his mind on giving Vettel a lesson or two in the art of driving that anything apart from a Red Bull car wasn’t acceptable and hence the rolling of the eyes.

    Also the behind the scenes politics at Mclaren must have gotten so bad for him to want out this bad.

    Oh well, lets see if Bernie the ring master waved his magic once more with this move, the way he did with Schumi and Todt

    However, it could also be argued that Bernie encouraged the Mercedes move in a bid to keep the team from pulling the plug on the F1 show.

    1. chrisnz says:

      ‘It appears Lewis had firmly set his mind on giving Vettel a lesson or two in the art of driving…’

      I’ve noticed a lot of these sort of comments creeping into the comments section in the last month or two and I don’t think I’m the only one who wants the high standards of this site maintained by having intelligent discussion about this great sport.
      Fanboy comments like the one quoted above have no place in the quality articles that James and his team provide us with. Don’t dumb the discussion down by saying that you think a triple world champion needs help.

      1. Ahmed says:

        +1
        We all have our favourite teams/drivers, but lets not resort to name calling, plenty of other sites for that. Please respect these talented athletes and give credit where it’s due regardless of favourites.

      2. Quade says:

        Calm down, we all have opinions and observations. We should give and accept both freely, so long as we are civil.
        It really isn’t right to label someone else a fanboy for expressing their opinion.

      3. Jim Dee says:

        @chrisnz ‘It appears Lewis had firmly set his mind on giving Vettel a lesson or two in the art of driving…’ is a figure of speech. It means goferet thinks Lewis wants to race the person he sees as the best in the world on equal terms.

    2. Equin0x says:

      Vettel would be too much over 3 years for Hamilton, in fact Jenson beat Hamilton over 3 years, actually on raw pace Webber is faster than Rosberg and Hamilton, just his races don’t match up but Hamilton would be beaten by Vettel, and Seb would have enjoyed beating Hamilton for 2 years rhen go to Ferrari and probably retire Alonso, but his legacy won’t be set out pwrfectly at least we have a nicely poised grid.

      1. Quade says:

        Most will say that Jenson beat Lewis politically and conclude that McLaren is the worse for it. Allowing politics in a team is the beginning of that teams downfall.

      2. Tim says:

        Where did you get the idea that JB beat LH over 3 years?
        The points in F1 are measured over a single season and at the beginning of the next season all the drivers start again at zero. On that (correct) basis LH won 2 seasons and JB 1.
        You should try reading the review that JA wrote about the pairing at McLaren – very insightful.

  15. Steve says:

    Wonder what Ron Dennis and McLaren think of this? Kind of makes you question the integrity of F1 when the top man has such an influence on procedings, although I guess he spices the championship up for everyone! Bernie’s job is to put bums on seats after all!

    1. James Allen says:

      As the article points out, it’s nothing new and many teams have been involved, not just McLaren

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        JA,

        Possible for you to do an article “spilling the beans” on the moves (that you are aware of) where Bernie was involved in pushing/helping things along ?

        I think quite a few of your readers would be very interested to hear about the chess-moves and gameplay and reasons for same.

  16. David says:

    So was Schumacher out the door before Bernie advised Lewis, or did Bernie convince Mercedes (Niki?) to move Schumacher out?

    I would think that, commercially, Michael would be better for the Mercedes mothership.

    1. Richard says:

      They don’t need mothership, they need fast driving!

    2. Sossoliso says:

      It is not all about commercials.. Bernie was getting worried about the biys in stuttgart saying ..auf wiedersehen to F1.
      with Hamilton on board, looks like they are “stopping for breath”.

    3. Jim Dee says:

      Schumacher left racing on his own accord.

      1. Tim says:

        If I recall correctly, LH move was announced before MS said he was retiring . I am not saying MS was pushed out the door but I do think he may have received a nudge.

  17. KenC says:

    Seems massively unethical for Bernie to be tampering with drivers.

  18. gudien says:

    Why does Bernie wish to meddle in the team’s choice of drivers, and why would Lewis Hamilton listen to Bernie?

    I believe there’s much more to this story that is not being told. [mod]
    Perhaps now is the time to truly modernize F-1 as the teams have been demanding for years.

    1. Richard says:

      I think Lewis had become unhappy at McLaren, and he knew Bernie could potentially be helpful to him.

  19. TMAX says:

    Wow that would have been a dream team super team …

    Would have loved too see that.

  20. Marcus says:

    Well Vettel digs competition, that is why he would not mind Hamilton coming along. Although some seem to think Lewis would come in and win everything hands down, some need to remember the same was said when Jensen went to Macca and it didn’t pan out that way. After Hamilton settled in, I think you’d have wins going both ways. Vettel has the cooler head, and Hamilton the aggressive edge, so their differing champion styles would be fun to watch. They have both admitted to being explosive though, so it might end up being a firecracker that’s too hot to handle.

    1. Phil H. says:

      Marcus,you are blessed with common sense!

  21. Peter says:

    Interesting, but it is always about the show for Bernie. In the interest of the sport. I get that.

    Wonder how long before he tries to broker a deal for Vettel to go to Ferrari, if it’s not already done.

  22. St George says:

    Intriguing article. James, why do you think Bernie has put this out there now? Because he can? Because he isn’t out there and wants to remind people who is in charge? To put the boot into McLaren while they are down?

    1. James Allen says:

      Maybe because he isn’t in Malaysia this weekend, so just to have something out there

      1. Steve says:

        Bernie’s a master of spin!

    2. This is also what sparked my interest. I think Bernie is just reminding everybody how central he is to the sport.

  23. mhilgtx says:

    How the teams put up with Bernie makes me scratch my head.

    Commercial rights holder my rear end.

    The teams have much power over F1 and I must say as big a business as it is the way money is distributed to the teams is pretty old school and is starting to hurt the sport.

    American Football can teach F1 a few lessons on how to maximise team revenues from the TV contract. The back marker teams should all be getting a slice of the pie as well. Really the TV and all revenues for that matter should be split between the teams with a small amount of money going to F1 itself. I imagine this is how soccer is done as well in Europe.

    In just a few months of really learning about the sport I see how Bernie and good ole Max at the FIA have pillaged this sport.

    I have no problem with people making money, the FIA thing is a different animal all together. That should be truly non profit and minimal salaries paid out all around.

    Off my soap box I guess, but man I scratch my head as I learn about some things like Sena, and Bernie and the favoritism showed to Ferrari. To me it seems like these things are all hurtful to the sport.

    1. W Johnson says:

      Spot on.

      I can’t wait for the day to see Bernie go.

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      Whole thing would be dead now, while teams and various stakeholder were fighting for control.

  24. what a lot of people have missed is that, in this instance, the ringmaster BE, wasn’t able to get hamilton a ride in a red bull. so much for his influence at all times!.

  25. Craig in Manila says:

    Not sure that I believe the “loyalty to Mark” part.

    I’d suggest that RBR figured that they really had no need to add the cost and potential “issues” of having two top-level drivers in the same team. I mean, why bother when there was no need ?

    It is however interesting that, according to Bernie, Lewis had basically no desire to go to Mercedes and had to be convinced to go that direction.

    Wonder if Lewis or Merc will make any comment on that part. Only if someone asks them I spose.

    1. Yak says:

      I didn’t read it as, “No way, that’s Webber’s seat.” I read it as Webber being given priority , and if he chose to leave then there’d have been a seat to fill. But he signed for another year, and they’re happy to have him. And why not? Three WCCs in a row wasn’t all Vettel’s work, and while he hasn’t really stood up to Vettel the last couple of years in the WDC fight, he’s winning races and scoring decent points, and is supposedly a great asset in terms of the feedback he provides.

    2. Phil H. says:

      Everybody knows that Lewis did not want to take off to Mercedes and that Lauda played a big part in convincing him. Nothing really new here..

  26. Val from montreal says:

    This story is also on A*t*dsport.com and its spinning it totally from whats written here on JAonF1 …, Ecclostone said that Hamilton pleaded with him to engineer a deal to move to Red Bull ..Hollywood asked Bernie for assistance in securing a seat at RB next to Vettel ..apparently at the 2011 canadian gp , Hollywood made a secret approach to Christian Horner asking for a deal …

    With the door shut at Red Bull , thats when Bernie suggested Hollywood switch to Brackley ..,

  27. Grant says:

    Wow, there’s lot more to Lewis’ move than meets. I see a case of irreconcilable differences between Lewis and McLaren long before the move.

    Somebody make a MOVIE please……

    1. Phil H. says:

      Could be.. Although I just think Lewis knows that RB is the place be if you want a car capable of winning the championship. That’s all the drivers ask for and they will do a lot to get in such a car.

  28. Atomic says:

    The way I see it is that you have several “myths” trying to establish themselves in the f1 history books. The SV-RBR unbeatable combination ending in the former being finaly established as one of the greats. The ALO-Ferrari combo trying for the same thing. The HAM-Merc deal is trying to do an SV-RBR thing from 2014 and Macca left to show that they just have the supreme machinery to push a medium driver at the top. These efforts on so many levels have the pottential of bringing a lot of money (viewers – sponsors). A HAM-SV combo would have resulted in what? A two man battle which would benefit only one team and not the sport in the long run. That’s why I think BE did not try his best in that scenario to happen.

  29. Anne says:

    Hilarious scene. Hamilton went to pit at McLaren!!!!!!

    :)

  30. Steve says:

    Hamilton and Vettel in the same team would have been the same result as Hamilton and Alonso at McLaren … only Lewis may have ended up moving on this time!

  31. El Mohico says:

    This is why I hate Hamilton!!!!! The same like Vettel, he needs team to “protect” the star!!!

  32. El Mohico says:

    Lewis destroyed his tires, burn too much fuel, Rosberg overall was better, but Ross decided otherwise

  33. Quade says:

    Bernie really needs to keep away from meddling with the teams. The things he says and does with F1 can be quite embarrassing.

  34. eeyore says:

    Assuming that Ecclestone’s comments have some relation to the truth (a big assumption I admit), then what conclusions can we draw?

    I don’t have much faith in the “loyalty to Mark Webber” theory. If Red Bull believe that they have a car fast enough to win races, then the current pairing have proved that one or other will win the drivers’ championship and take the constructors’ title too. Why would Red Bull’s management think that introducing a new and “high maintenance” driver improve their prospects?

    It would be Vettel who should be worried about these revelations. My conclusion is that Ecclestone does not want Vettel to win another championship (either by beating him with a strong teammate or destablising the team). If this tactic didn’t work, what will Ecclestone attempt if Vettel establishes a lead?

    1. Quade says:

      @eeyore
      You might be right about Bernie tiring of the string of Vettel WDC’s. Could be that he got sick of Vettels cockiness, jibes at the FIA, swearwords on the podium etc. Those things would make more money for Bernie and he might consider them very unsuitable for the image of F1.

      Perhaps he wanted to teach him a lesson with a team mate that the paddock believes is the fastest in F1, who’s well mannered and who can pull in the crowds.
      What better way to draw in advert/TV money than to have a charismatic F1 champ thats also rather good on the eye of the ladies?

  35. dufus says:

    Doesn’t it go to show that Vet not caring who signs for the team that he feels no threat.
    Dr Helmut will always look after the wonderboy.

  36. Paul D says:

    Bernie has always done this though? Why are people so shocked and outraged?

    He was involved in 1992 in the 3 into 2 scenario and tried to get Mansell to unretire. He also worked hard to get Hill a seat at the end of 1996 and 1997 with Mclaren.

    I’m sure there are other examples too!

  37. McLaren78 says:

    I don’t believe one iota of Bernie’s reasons for RBR not signing Lewis. Loyalty to Webber? In this cut-throat sport? Come on, you have to be really naive to believe this. I believe what Horner said, that partnership wouldn’t work and Vettel would need be ‘protected’ (see Webber’s comments from today).

  38. AuraF1 says:

    Clearly Red Bull want to hold on to mark until he retires. They won’t want him taking any red bull secrets to Ferrari – it’s better for them to pay him until he goes out of F1.

    Why pay Hamilton ten times as much as mark when webber will always score points and not really destabilise the lead driver too often? Besides webber does go well at ‘old school’ tracks that tend to be sebs slightly weaker spot.

  39. GP says:

    So much for Lewis’ desire to go to a weaker team to “build them up.” He didn’t want to go there in the first place. This reveals 2 things, Lewis didn’t tell the truth when he signed for Mercedes, and McLaren isn’t a place where a top driver wants to be. Quite revealing…

    1. JB HAM says:

      That was from EARLY 2011.. mercedes was not really an option back then.

  40. absolude says:

    So, Vettel would accept to pair anyone, while Alonso doesn’t.
    It says a lot.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Too bad there is not much credibility in whatever Vettel say :)

  41. Jean-Paul says:

    Is that “Jenson” that’s written on Lewis’ cap??

  42. Mike from Colombia says:

    While Bernie is the mood for spilling the beans….could you please tell us what really caused the Senna crash ?

  43. aveli says:

    assuming the daily mail is not making up stories. they claimed beanie told them that hamilton was willing to sit out if he couldn’t get a seat and hamilton said he doesn’t remember and that may be ecclestone’s memory was better than his.

  44. aveli says:

    hamilton has denied it, suggesting that those comments are sinply attempts to improve vettels profile. vettel is the only person to develop his own profile. he has done so by nicking his teammates points. if he was as brave or as confident in his abilities as ecclestones comments suggests, he would not go about nicking webbers points the way he did under team orders.
    he either agreed in secret with the managers before the race or he knew the managers wouldn’t go against him.
    vettel didn’t want hamilton at red bull because he knows hamilton will simply show him up.

    1. Anthony Smith says:

      Red Bull were at the top of their game when Hamilton approached them, as they are now. What could hiring Hamilton (or anyone else) possibly add to their success?

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