Bernie Ecclestone came down heavily on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes' publicity machinery. Image Credit: AFP

London: Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone believes Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are ‘bullying’ Red Bull star Max Verstappen as they battle for the World Championship.

Hamilton and Verstappen have won 17 races between them this season, with the Dutchman claiming nine victories to Hamilton’s eight and they head into the finale of the year in Abu Dhabi level on points. Their rivalry has been one for the ages, with the two colliding at Silverstone and Monza before last weekend’s dramatic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where drama and controversy reigned.

With controversies aplenty, Ecclestone believes Hamilton and Mercedes are playing games with Verstappen.


“Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him,” Ecclestone quoted as saying to Mirror.co.uk. “Max has more than a race to confront as he has them too on his back because they are bullying him and not playing fair. It is psychological game-playing.”

“Max has had a few years of racing but has not had years in the streets like Lewis. It has built character and knowing he would win the race with Mercedes being the dominant force over the past few years has made him a much stronger character than Max. For Max, this season is the first one he has had a car capable of winning regularly whereas before it was nothing like competitive,” he said.

Ecclestone is happy for either of them to win - but he has not been to a race since attending the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - the last event before the pandemic took hold of the world.