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.