Mercedes should tell Lewis Hamilton 'take it or leave it' says ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone as he recalls row over Senna

BERNIE ECCLESTONE has called on Mercedes to offer Lewis Hamilton a 'take it or leave it' contract.

Negotiations over the world champion's seat in the coming season continue to rumble on.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had promised that an agreement would be found 'soon' but Hamilton remains the only driver on the grid without a contract.

Ecclestone, 90, ran the Brabham team in the 1970s and 80s before heading F1 itself for a number of decades and he set out how he would approach the Hamilton talks.

He told F1 Insider: "I would have made it quite clear to Lewis.

"Either you take what we offer you now – or you leave it.

"Everyone is replaceable. Only one person decides who drives here – and that’s me!"

Ecclestone recalled a similar negotiation with multiple world champion Nelson Piquet at Brabham in the mid-1980s.


An up-and-coming Ayrton Senna had caught the Brit's eye but star man Piquet helped veto the call.

Ecclestone continued: "In 1983 we became world champion with Nelson Piquet.

"I had to decide who would drive alongside him in 1984. We had an extremely good test with a young Brazilian driver called Ayrton Senna.

"I wanted him. When Nelson heard about it, he really got upset and reacted like a defiant child.

"He absolutely did not want Senna as a team-mate. He immediately recognised his potential. But I didn’t care.

“Our main sponsor Parmalat didn’t want two Brazilians. I weighed everything carefully.

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"In the end, peace in the team was more important to me.

"But since I was also the head of the constructors’ association, I made sure that Senna got a job elsewhere, with Toleman.

"I knew he was going to be the future superstar, so I really wanted to see him in Formula One."

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