Bernie Ecclestone has hit out at Lewis Hamilton's management, suggesting that the English driver's celebrity lifestyle has had an adverse effect on his career.
While there have been a number of mesmerising performances this season, for much of the time Hamilton was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Then again, when he wasn't tangling with Felipe Massa or making awkward jokes about his treatment by the stewards, the youngster was making the news courtesy of his on-off relationship with his pop star girlfriend and rock 'n' roll lifestyle which included mixing with the likes of Rhianna and rapper Ice-T.
Ecclestone believes that Hamilton's decision to part company with his father Anthony, who manages Force India star Paul di Resta, and join forces with Simon Fuller's agency, XIX Entertainment, which also manages the Beckhams, Jennifer Lopez and Annie Lennox, has been a disaster for the driver.
"I think it's a disaster," the F1 supremo told the Guardian. "He gets to meet people that probably he wouldn't have met, and (who) have probably the wrong sort of influence on him.
"He's at the age, perhaps, and he has the amount of money, where when he's influenced, he can carry things through, which he wouldn't normally have done," he added.
Describing Hamilton's season as an "uphill year", he added: "I think he had some personal problems during the year which affected him quite a lot. A lot to do with these things, it depends an awful lot on the people you surround yourself with, and who are in a position to influence you. I think he just fell into a lot of people that I think weren't good for him. When his dad was looking after him, his dad was a bit more... obviously it didn't suit Lewis, which was why they split, I think he didn't appreciate how much help his dad was."
Ironically, clinging to Ecclestone's side at Monaco earlier this year was Geri Halliwell (above), who, when with the Spice Girls, was managed by Fuller. While, closer to home, daughter Tamara, who was recently the subject of a much panned reality programme, has taken on the same stylists as used by Jordan... and we don't mean Eddie.