AP Photo / Ng Han Guan.

London - Bernie Ecclestone, a keen gambler, has a word of investment advice: put your money on Sebastian Vettel for the world title.

The 88-year-old Formula One mogul spoke to the German recently - they are backgammon-playing friends - and the impression he gets is that the Ferrari man is ready to rip the crown from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp.

"Sebastian will do it," declared Ecclestone ahead of Sunday’s opening race in Melbourne.

"Sebastian is in very good spirits, very relaxed. The car is quick. We saw that in testing and Ferrari will really have got it together this year. Ferrari winning the title is what Formula One needs. It would be absolutely super and I think it will happen.

"Lewis will be strong, though. He is still super-competitive but he is doing a lot of other things - fashion and music and whatever. He will have to manage everything well to take on Sebastian."

As Ecclestone’s endorsement was delivered, Vettel was on stage in the city’s Federation Square as part of a new initiative - a season launch attended by all 20 drivers and 8000 fans.

Vettel used the occasion to reveal that he is calling his 2019 Ferrari ‘Lina’, maintaining his tradition of adopting a lady’s name for his car.

Daily Mail