PLAIN SAILING? Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone (left) is the opinion that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (right) won't have any real competition in the championship next season. Image: AFP / Izak Kovanic
London - Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will win his fourth Formula 1 World Championship next season, regardless of who his team mate is.
Hamilton lost out to Nico Rosberg in final race of the season in Abu Dhabi as he lost the F1 crown.
The Brit was left deeply disappointed as he suffered numerous reliability issues throughout the season.
Lewis "wants to win fair"
However, with the German now retired, Ecclestone reckons that there is no more competition for Hamilton.
Ecclestone told Sky Sports: "I think nobody would want to buy tickets and go to watch a race or watch on television Lewis disappearing from us when the lights go off and probably lapping the field a couple of times.
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"It would be bad for everybody and bad for Lewis as well, because I think he wants to win fair and wants to beat somebody. I don't think anybody is going to beat Lewis."
Ecclestone, though, admitted that Max Verstappen will probably be Hamilton’s closest challenger in 2017 but believes the Silver Arrow ace will still out-score him.
Ecclestone said: "Verstappen has been super. When I say nobody, maybe Max in that car could hurry Lewis along a little bit. If he gets in the right car he will. Even where he is now there's possibilities.
"The problem is a simple one: the Mercedes team, engine, everything, is perfect and they've got the best driver in the world.
"I hope I'm completely wrong in my assessment of the championship with Lewis. I hope I am wrong and whoever goes and sits in the same team can beat him or hurry him up that he makes mistakes.
"But my personal opinion is that it's not going to happen."