Bernie Ecclestone claims Mercedes are 'bullying' rival Max Verstappen

‘They are BULLYING Max’: Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone hits out at Mercedes for ‘not playing fair’ in Lewis Hamilton’s battle with Verstappen and claims they are inflicting a ‘psychological game’ on the Dutchman

  • Bernie Ecclestone has accused Mercedes of ‘bullying’ title rival Max Verstappen
  • Former F1 supremo believes Mercedes are ‘not playing fair’ with the Dutchman
  • He also claims Verstappen has to put up with ‘psychological game playing’ 
  • Verstappen and Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton are locked in a tight title battle
  • The drivers’ championship will be decided in the season’s last race in Abu Dhabi 

Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has accused Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton of ‘bullying’ title rival Max Verstappen in the race for the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton won a frantic and action-packed Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday to go level on points with the Red Bull driver, taking their thrilling battle for the title to the final race.

The Jeddah race was not without incident, with Hamilton colliding into the back of Verstappen’s car when the Dutchman was ordered to slow down and allow the Brit to overtake him midway through the race.

Bernie Ecclestone (left) has accused Mercedes of ‘bullying’ title rival Max Verstappen (right)

Ecclestone claims Toto Wolff (left) and Hamilton (right) are ‘pushing down’ on Verstappen

However, confusion saw Hamilton hit the back of Verstappen’s car which saw the seven-time world champion brand him as ‘f***ing crazy’ before the Red Bull man was hit with two separate time penalties and points on his racing license.

Ecclestone, 91, claims Hamilton has been using his wealth of experience to ‘push down’ on Verstappen before accusing Mercedes chief Toto Wolff of influencing race directors.

‘Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him,’ Ecclestone told AFP.

‘They have been pushing down all the time on Max and then the race directors have been looking in because Toto goes to the race director.

Ecclestone’s comments come after Hamilton (right) collided with Verstappen (left) on Sunday

‘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.’

Ecclestone also exclusively told Sportsmail that he believes racing fans would like to see a new world champion, given how Hamilton and Mercedes have dominated in recent years.

‘It is difficult to say which one will prevail,’ Ecclestone told Sportsmail when asked about who will prevail in the title race. ‘I think it now depends on a little bit of good or bad luck that either of them bumps into.

‘Generally, the public — and this is nothing against Lewis, he has done a first-class job — probably wants to see somebody else be world champion. That is the feeling I get from people.

‘Lewis has been a bit luckier until now. Whether that luck will remain or run out we’ll have to see.

Ecclestone says Mercedes chief Wolff (seen angrily reacting on Sunday) ‘goes to the race director’, leaving Verstappen to also put up with ‘psychological game playing’

‘Max as champion would be good for Formula One. Mercedes have been great, but it would be good if someone else came to the fore.

‘Max presents himself very, very well to the public. New kid on the block sort of thing, though he has been performing well for a few years but was largely unknown.

‘People wonder if they will crash but if they do it won’t be intentional. It could happen but I don’t think either of them will do anything silly or drive in a way that could cause an accident.

‘If it does happen it probably won’t be anything to do with them. That is what I am saying about luck and it could be the difference between being champion or not.

‘It’s been a good championship, what we have been waiting seven years for. That’s why I hope it goes to the wire and whoever is luckier is world champion in 2021.’

Ecclestone also revealed that he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton for months, but insists he respects what the Brit is doing.

Hamilton (right) came out on top in an action-packed Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday

‘I haven’t spoken to Lewis for months,’ he says. ‘There’s nothing really that we have too much in common about that we want to discuss. 

‘I respect him and all the things he is trying to do, but he has to respect and believe that other people — and I am not just speaking about myself — have opinions. He can’t rely on the supposed fact that his opinion is the single opinion that people should look up to.’  

The title will be decided by a mouth-watering one-race shootout at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. 

Sportsmail revealed earlier today that Channel 4 are in talks with Sky Sports over showing live coverage of Hamilton’s world title showdown with Max Verstappen on Sunday.

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