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McLaren lost the championship, says Ecclestone

NEWS STORY
28/11/2007

Bernie Ecclestone is firmly of the opinion that McLaren lost the 2007 World Championship, rather than McLaren winning it. However, he also says that despite Lewis Hamilton's sensational debut, the best man won the Drivers' Championship.

"McLaren lost the championship rather than Ferrari winning it," he said in an interview for Formula1.com. "It was lost in the last two races. If McLaren in Shanghai had called Lewis in a lap before he might have dropped two or three places but he would still have won the championship.

"The mistake in Brazil in my opinion was obviously gearbox trouble, but also the move afterwards to switch him onto a three-stop strategy and to give him soft tyres. He lost a lot of time doing that, but that is a matter of opinion."

Referring to Raikkonen's title win, he added: "What has happened was quite good. Hamilton has had a lot of exposure, which has been fantastic for him and for Formula One. At first Kimi was a little bit in the background, but when you think about it, that he won six races against four for Lewis, he is entitled to be world champion isn't he?"

With regards Fernando Alonso's nightmare relationship with McLaren, Ecclestone said: "We don't know what he was promised when he was employed by McLaren. At the time he signed Hamilton had not even driven a Formula One car. So if they said to him, 'Don't worry he is a rookie and a nobody, and you are a world champion and our number one', he probably went there thinking he was going to get the same treatment Michael Schumacher got at Ferrari. Then he suddenly found out that it wasn't like that, and worse, that maybe there was more attention given to Lewis than to him. In this case he might have felt overshadowed. So I suppose that started the problem."

When Alain Prost was dithering as to whether to retire or not - the Frenchman ultimately opting to take a sabbatical for a year - Ecclestone famously, and rather shockingly, referred to a time when drivers were naturally "culled", widely thought to refer to a time when the sport 'lost' several key drivers each season. The Englishman now believes that some of the 'elder statesmen' of F1 should retire gracefully, rather than hang on for that extra season.

Referring to Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher - both due to test with Force India next week - he said: "Both have been in decent teams for quite a time and should have performed better than they have. They ought to give very serious consideration to whether it makes sense to move into a less competitive environment. Maybe if they change teams they'll get a bit of a wake-up call."

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