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Ecclestone tips Alonso for title

NEWS STORY
24/08/2007

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is confident that Fernando Alonso's experience will win out over Lewis Hamilton's outrageous raw talent in the battle for the 2007 World Championship.

Speaking to The Times, Ecclestone admitted that he feels the title fight will be a hard, close fought, battle, right up to the very end, but that the two-time World Champion would eventually prove victorious. That said, he is fully appreciative of Lewis Hamilton's ability.

"I don't know, it's difficult to know," said the Englishman, when asked who he thought would take the 2007 crown. "I suppose you would have to say Alonso is favourite because of his experience. But the way the other guy (Hamilton) is performing - if you took his hat off and put bloody Schumacher's hat on, you'd say Schumacher was driving, wouldn't you?"

Fact is, there may come a time when McLaren has to bite the bullet and favour one driver over the other, not to mention the possibility of the current situation between the two getting out of hand and spilling over into outright on-track warfare, as witnessed when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost both drove for the Woking team.

"If one of them obviously gets into a position where the other one can't really catch them and he needs a bit of help, maybe that's what will happen," Ecclestone said. "If you and I are in the same team against each other, as long as we are still competing we are probably going to be a little bit edgy with each other. But I think when you are obviously clear in front and I can't do anything about it, then I obviously want to help you. So that's when you'll see the test."

Knowing that strong competition, just like political intrigue, is good for the sport, Ecclestone is hoping that Ferrari will remain in the hunt.

"I'd like to see both the McLaren cars stop and Ferrari get some points and have four runners up there (in contention), he admitted. "You'd have to put your money on McLaren, but you never know."

Speaking of the forthcoming appearance in front of the World Motor Sport Council, Ecclestone, who was party to the original decision not to punish McLaren for its role in the spy saga, remains confident that the British team will escape sanction.

"Unless something new comes up, there's not an awful lot one can do because you've got to catch the guy with the shooter in his hands, pulling the trigger," he said.

"They (McLaren) can still be in trouble under the different sections in the rules where they should be in control of what goes on in the company, which is obvious - they could be in trouble there. But the big thing is, people would have to show that they were involved in the theft and they were using the material - that's where they would be in big trouble."

And this from the man who said that the Woking team should be punished severely, even to the extent of being excluded from the championship, for using team orders in Monaco.

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