Hamilton should quit F1 if he matches Schumacher - Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone believes Ferrari would rather sign Max Verstappen than Lewis Hamilton and says the reigning world champion should quit Formula 1 if he matches the record championship tally of Michael Schumacher.
If Hamilton can secure another drivers' title in 2020 it would move him level with Schumacher on four championships – although his and Mercedes' future in the sport beyond that remains unclear.
While Hamilton says he wants to keep racing into the new era of regulations in 2021, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hinted that the Silver Arrows may not be sold, something Ecclestone has picked up on.
And the former F1 supremo says age would count against Hamilton if he were a free agent alongside Verstappen – with both entering the final year of their respective contracts in 2020.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Mercedes stopped," Ecclestone told the Daily Mail.
"There has been change at the top and the new people are not so enthusiastic about Formula One as the old people used to be.
"They might think we have won seven world championships — which they will have done by the end of next year — so why stay?
"If I were Lewis I'd think, 'I've won another title,' and I'd stop. If Charles Leclerc stays at Ferrari, I'd put money on him to win against Lewis. He's not necessarily better but he is established in the team.
"Ferrari is a strange place to work. Lewis doesn't speak Italian. They might gang up on him — or fall in love with him — but I don't think he would do as good a job for himself or the sport as he is doing with Mercedes.
"If Ferrari had a choice of Lewis or Max Verstappen I think they would go for Max, for the same reason they like Charles.
"With Sebastian Vettel or Lewis they will only get a couple of years but with the younger two they might get 10 years. I'm not sure Max isn't the best guy at the moment, including Lewis."
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