Bernie Ecclestone has been heavily criticised after suggesting former world champion Michael Schumacher ignored "limits" on the track.

The former Formula One chief executive said of Schumacher, who has not been seen in public since a ski injury in 2013 left him in a medically induced coma: "His problem was that he had no limits."

Ecclestone was thought to have been referring to several high-profile incidents involving the German behind the wheel, such as a collision involving Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez in 1997.

"The scandals brought a lot of publicity, but not the right kind," Ecclestone told Sport Bild ahead of F1's 1000th race in China this weekend. "It was good for F1, but not so good for him. That's what I meant by him not knowing the limits."


The comments enraged Schumacher's former manager Wili Weber, who called them "stupid".

"As a racing driver, you have to go to and sometimes beyond the limit," he said. "Nobody knew this better than Michael."

On the current championship, Ecclestone said the sport was suffering because of Lewis Hamilton's perceived psychological hold over rival Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari's 31-year-old who won the last of his four world titles in 2013.

"Formula One needs a Sebastian who wins," Ecclestone said. "People underestimate him. He will find a way out of the low he's in. I've thought a lot about it, because I really like Sebastian and he is my friend.

"He often makes silly mistakes when he's fighting Lewis. It's like a mental block for him. Sebastian really respects Lewis and wants to do better than him. In Bahrain, he could have overtaken him later because his car was faster."