SAO PAULO (REUTERS) - Bernie Ecclestone reckons Lewis Hamilton would be a better champion for Formula One than Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.
The championship will be decided in Abu Dhabi on Nov 23, with the Mercedes drivers the only two in contention and everything to play for with double points awarded for the first time in the sport's history.
Ecclestone told the official formula1.com website, in an interview carried out at the US Grand Prix last weekend but published on Sunday, that at the start of the season he had expected Rosberg to be the winner.
"I thought that would probably suit the team better. And in my position I thought it would be better for Formula One to have a world champion who can speak several languages," said the sport's commercial supremo.
"I thought that if there was going to be any help, which I am certain that there hasn't been, then maybe there would be a bit more support forthcoming from a German team for a German driver. So yes, I was sure that Nico would do it.
"Privately I thought that Lewis would be a good champion. He is more widely known around the world than Nico. Consequently, he would be the better champion for the sport."
Ecclestone, who recently turned 84 and has run the sport for decades, said he was sure 2008 world champion Hamilton had far more recognition around the world than Rosberg. "Most people haven't heard of Nico. Therefore, Lewis would be the better champion as far as this sport is concerned," said the Briton.
The Briton has won 10 races to Rosberg's four ahead of Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the championship.
Rosberg has been better in qualifying, however, his 10 poles for the season securing him the sport's inaugural pole position trophy at Interlagos.