Bernie Ecclestone reckons Lewis Hamilton is only a six-time world champion, and the only driver to win seven world titles is Michael Schumacher. That's because Hamilton got 'lucky' during the 2008 season, especially after the events that unfolded during the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ecclestone, the former owner of the F1 group, released a controversial statement claiming that Hamilton was fortuitous to win his first title in 2008, so he's not a seven-time champion.
Ecclestone referred to the 'Crashgate scandal' that took place during the Singapore GP that year.
During the race, Renault had Nelson Piquet jr. crash purposefully to give his teammate Fernando Alonso the opportunity for an early pit stop and win the race. Hamilton finished P3 in that race, earning six points, owing to the old point system of F1, while the other championship contender, Felipe Massa, finished out of the points.
Ecclestone, who was then the CEO of the F1 group, said that had he had the matter in his hands, there was a high possibility that the race could have been cancelled because of the statements Piquet later made to reveal the scandal.
In that event, Lewis Hamilton would have lost the six points he earned in Singapore and Massa would have clinched the championship. So, Ecclestone feels that Hamilton was 'lucky' to win the championship and considers him to be a six-time champion.
Ecclestone believes Massa would have been world champion instead of Lewis Hamilton
Referring to the aforementioned incident, Ecclestone is adamant that Hamilton was not the true champion and only won because the race at the Marina Bay Circuit was not cancelled. Otherwise, he says, Felipe Massa who was then driving for Ferrari, would have been the world champion:
"We had enough information in time to investigate the matter. According to the statutes, we would have had to cancel the race in Singapore under these conditions. That means it would never have taken place for the world championship standings. Then Felipe Massa would have become world champion and not Lewis Hamilton."
Felipe Massa is often referred to as the '37-second world champion,' since he won the world championship at Sao Paulo the same year after crossing the line first. However, 37 seconds later, Hamilton made a last-corner move on Timo Glock to win the championship by a single point.
It was a disappointing day for Massa, whose career ended without a championship. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton would go on to win six more world championships, going level with Michael Schumacher, arguably one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.