Ecclestone: 'People are wrong to attack Lewis Hamilton'

Bernie Ecclestone came to Lewis Hamilton's defence yesterday and said he is getting tired of the endless criticism of his driving, even from his own close friends such as triple world champion Niki Lauda, who said it was time the FIA punished the British driver.

"People have been wrong to rubbish Lewis," Ecclestone said. "What we want is people racing, and all the people who watch it want that. If you analyse what's been happening and how other drivers have been performing, Lewis shows up very well, and so do Sebastian [Vettel] and Jenson [Button]. So let him race. That's what people like him do. I was very, very good friends with [Ayrton] Senna, and if you look at what he did, he was a racer too, and people had to move over for him.

"Perhaps Lewis has made one or two questionable moves, but so have many of the others, and nobody bothers to look what's happening further down the field. It's always been like this. We saw a lot of people racing in Canada on Sunday, and Jenson did a super job. That's what the fans want to see."

Ecclestone also said he hoped that it would be possible to return to Bahrain one day, and that while cancelling the 2011 race had been the right thing to do, the door remained open for the future.

Originally it was planned to hold it on 30 October in place of the inaugural Indian GP, then 4 December had to be ruled out because it falls too close to the Muslim religious festive day of Ashura on the 5th; and the 11th was too close to the annual FIA prize-giving.

Ecclestone said: "They asked me for a face-to-face meeting in Montreal once they had arrived and we discussed those three dates. I told them that I thought withdrawing was the easiest way to handle the situation."