Hamilton is the sport's 'greatest champion' - Ecclestone
On the eve of his 150th grand prix, with two titles under his belt, Lewis Hamilton has been hailed as the greatest champion in the history of the sport by the architect of modern Formula One.
Bernie Ecclestone has seen all the great champions in his four decades at the helm, but was effusive in his praise of Hamilton, the sport's biggest and only star.
"He's been the best world champion we've had," Ecclestone said last night. "Apart from the fact he's talented, he's a good guy. He gets out on the street, supports and promotes Formula One. He is 100 per cent box office."
The 84-year-old is good friends with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel but has told the German he should be marketing himself and F1 as Hamilton does.
"It's always good whatever Lewis says, even if it's silly," Ecclestone added. "It's great for the sport." It was a ringing endorsement of Hamilton before his landmark race, the Malaysian Grand Prix. The 30-year-old is more confident than ever, having dominated in Australia.
Hamilton even shrugged off an engine failure yesterday to post the fastest time by the end of the day. The two-time champion admitted he struggled to see himself completing another 150 races in eight more seasons. Ecclestone and the rest of F1 will be hoping he does.
"It's pretty amazing," Hamilton said. "I remember my first race in Formula One, coming out of the garage and seeing my dad there. It'll be tough [doing 300 races]. I can't see it, but in the next four years I might laugh and stay another four years."
His preparations for tomorrow's race have been "heavily compromised" by limited practice. Ferrari appear resurgent - Sebastian Vettel has been speaking of catching Mercedes - while Hamilton's advantage over team-mate Nico Rosberg in Melbourne may have been exaggerated. It's understood that Mercedes miscalculated how much fuel Rosberg had left, which meant he drove more conservatively and could not mount a serious challenge. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Malaysian GP, tomorrow, live, BBC1/Setanta Ire, 8.00am