Bernie Ecclestone urges critics to lay off Lewis Hamilton
Former F1 chief hope Hamilton doesn't become fed up of criticism and quit the sport early
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 20/03/17 3:15pm
Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone hopes Lewis Hamilton is not driven out of the sport prematurely by criticism of him.
Hamilton enters his second decade of F1 at this weekend's season-opening Australian GP aiming to win his fourth world title, with the Mercedes driver the bookmakers' favourite to reclaim the crown he lost to former team-mate Nico Rosberg last year.
But despite continued success on the track, Hamilton is routinely the subject of media scrutiny of his jet-setting lifestyle, and Ecclestone, who once described Hamilton as "the best world champion we've had" for the way he promotes the sport, hopes the 32-year-old does not become fed up and decide to quit.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, F1's chairman emeritus said: "What worries me a little bit is if Lewis suddenly thinks to himself 'I tell you what I'm going to do, I've had enough people criticising me, I'm going to be on pole in every race, win every race, and stop at the end of the year'.
"I hope he doesn't do it."
Hamilton's relationship with his Mercedes team appeared strained after the closing race of last season when he ignored direct instructions to speed up in the Abu Dhabi title decider as he attempted to back Rosberg into the chasing pack.
But after clear-the-air talks with team boss Toto Wolff, Hamilton said at the launch of Mercedes' 2017 car last month he and the team were "communicating better than ever".
Wolff says team and driver are unequivocally on the same page, ahead of a season in which Mercedes' domination of F1 looks poised to be challenged.
"The best ones are all not easy. This makes them the best," Wolff told the Guardian.
"After four years we have got to know each other and we kind of get the vibes. We are on this journey together and most of our objectives are aligned most of the time but not always - and we recognise that.
"We respect him as an individual, we respect him as a personality and we respect him as a racing driver."
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