Formula One was just one step away from a “lousy” season but was spared a dull drivers’ championship thanks to the decision by Mercedes not to impose team orders, according to Bernie Ecclestone.
Ecclestone also took aim at Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the foreword to the official season review.
“If we hadn’t been lucky with Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton] racing each other and one of them had got away and been dominant, the season would have been over by Silverstone,” Ecclestone, the sport’s ringmaster, said.“I thought perhaps Ferrari or Red Bull or one of the other teams would catch up halfway through the season and make up a few points at the end.
“We’ve been extremely lucky with what happened, these two guys have been racing each other and it’s good that Mercedes allowed them to do that. If not, we would have had a really lousy championship.”
Ecclestone was highly critical of Vettel, the four-time champion. He claimed that the German, 27, had been acting like a defeated driver this season when he was outperformed by his Red Bull team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo.
The pair are close friends, but that did not prevent Ecclestone from expressing his “disappointment” at Vettel’s attitude this year. “I’m a super supporter of Sebastian, but I’m a little bit disappointed with his attitude, which I think has changed. He’s acting like a defeated guy, and he isn’t — that’s not his mentality. He’s a competitive guy.”
Vettel will race for Ferrari next year as he seeks to rebuild his reputation. The man he is replacing at the Italian team, Alonso, was also castigated by Ecclestone. “Ferrari was very disappointing, getting lost somewhere. Fernando got a little bit like Sebastian halfway through, so I’m a little disappointed in him, too.”
Meanwhile, Eric Boullier, the McLaren racing director, says he hopes there will be a decision on the team’s driver line-up in “days“.