Hamilton better to retire than likely lose to Leclerc at Ferrari - Ecclestone

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Lewis Hamilton should retire from Formula 1 instead of likely losing alongside Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, says Bernie Ecclestone.

The six-time world champion is consistently linked to a move to the Scuderia, with his current contract at Mercedes set to expire after next season.

Another possibility is the German manufacturer pulling out of F1 with new rules set to come into effect for 2021 and, if that was to be the case, the long-time CEO thinks Hamilton would be better off following suit.

“There has been change at the top [at Mercedes] and the new people are not so enthusiastic about F1 as the old people used to be,” he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

“They might think we have won seven World Championships — which they will have done by the end of next year — so why stay?

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“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.”

Ecclestone also believes Ferrari would be wrong to take on Hamilton given the availability of another driver on the market.

“If Ferrari had a choice of Lewis or Max Verstappen I think they would go for Max, for the same reason they like Charles,” he said.

“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.”

Hamilton though brushed off Bernie's comments stating he feels more than capable of fighting F1's next generation of drivers for now.

“It’s inevitable that the youngsters are going to come through,” he said in Brazil. “There’s often a wave of young talent that manages to make its way through to Formula 1.

“I think Formula 1’s got a lot of new young blood with a lot of potential and they really are the future of the sport.

“Fortunately I feel that whilst the number [of years] shows a little bit higher, I feel like I’m able to still kick it with these guys.

“So I’m excited for the future, racing with these guys and if we can get these teams to be closer, then we’re going to see more awesome battles like [Brazil] and I think that would be great.”