Bernie Ecclestone backs Lewis Hamilton's switch to Mercedes


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The Independent Online

Bernie Ecclestone feels Lewis Hamilton will serve as an inspiration to Mercedes when he joins the German manufacturing giant next year.

Hamilton caused a sensation when he announced last month he would be quitting McLaren at the end of this season after 14 years with the team, replacing seven-time champion Michael Schumacher at Mercedes.

The 27-year-old has signed a three-year, £15million-per-season deal with a team that has only won one race since returning to Formula One at the start of 2010.

Hamilton has claimed he wants a new challenge, whilst Mercedes may finally have found the final piece of their jigsaw in their bid to become a title-challenging team.

Asked for his thoughts on Hamilton's move, F1 boss Ecclestone said: "I think it's good for Mercedes.

"If they are really going to get their act together they need someone like Lewis who is going to do a bit of inspiring for people that want to go and work there.

"Nobody wants to work for a team that doesn't look as if it is doing well, but now maybe they will.

"I think Lewis' name is a stamp of good housekeeping, which is what everyone expected of Michael."

Ecclestone, meanwhile, believes McLaren were also right to bring in 22-year-old Mexican Sergio Perez from Sauber to replace Hamilton.

"I probably would have done what they (McLaren) have done," said Ecclestone, who turns 82 on Sunday.

As for a mooted return to Mexico, that would appear to be some way off, especially as the suggested venue is the old Hermanos Rodriguez circuit that last staged F1 in 1992

"They are trying to get us to do a race there," said Ecclestone, who has confirmed it will not be replacing the grand prix in New Jersey that was scheduled for next year, but has been put back to 2014.

"Next year is too soon. They haven't got a circuit that's ready."

Asked about the Hermanos Rodriguez track, Ecclestone added: "That's the problem. It's the old one. It just needs sorting out a bit."