Ecclestone Says Hamilton Asked Him To Broker Deal So He Could Join Red Bull
F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE said that LEWIS HAMILTON wanted to move to Red Bull and "had advanced discussions with the champions before he agreed a deal to race for Mercedes this season," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The '08 world champion asked Ecclestone to "broker a move" to SEBASTIAN VETTEL's team but talks ended when Red Bull's billionaire owner DIETRICH MATESCHITZ insisted on Australian MARK WEBBER having first refusal. Ecclestone said, "Dietrich is a very honest, straightforward guy and told Mark the door was open for him to stay. That was good of him. Had Mark gone, Dietrich would have signed Lewis" (REUTERS, 3/23). AUTOSPORT's Jonathan Noble reported Hamilton dismissed claims he asked Ecclestone to get him a Red Bull deal, insisting that joining Mercedes was the "best decision of his life." Hamilton said he was aware of Ecclestone's comments, but he was confused as "they did not tally with his version of events." Hamilton said, "I think he said something about me talking to Red Bull? I said to my management team to speak to all the teams and give me what the best options were. There was no particular one that I was pushing for more" (AUTOSPORT, 3/25).