Vettel claimed his third world title in November's Brazilian Grand Prix.
"Today Sebastian is the yardstick. Times are simply different today and that doesn’t only go for drivers. The whole environment is different. We have many more do’s and don’ts than back in the old days," he told the Official F1 website.
"Remember when Sebastian swore on the podium? He immediately got into trouble. If that had been James Hunt or Graham Hill, they wouldn’t have cared - and nobody else would have cared. Look at the television culture today - the f-word has become part of normal conversation. I don’t think that Sebastian’s spontaneous expression was a big deal for a lot of people - just for a few people. Complete nonsense!"
"So if you ask what the real difference is between past drivers and today’s drivers, it’s that they were characters before and they’re not allowed to be characters now."
The Octogenarian was asked whether Sebastian Vettel will be able to eclipse Schumacher's record of seven world titles.
"Difficult. A seven-time world champion - that’s not easy. He is not half way there. It will be a question of how good his team will stay - or how bad the others are. When Michael won his five titles with Ferrari it was because Ferrari did a better job than any other team - that is the same with Red Bull at the moment. Whether they can continue, you don’t know. Let’s wait and see".
Ecclestone also reckons the sport is in a good place after a fantastic season of racing.
"I was a bit surprised that Ferrari weren’t a bit more competitive, and I was surprised that McLaren had so many failures".
"On the positive side it was a good year in terms of TV audiences - the public perception was phenomenal. We also went to a new place - Austin - and it was perfectly prepared. So at the moment everything with Formula One is super positive".
Ecclestone also gave an insight into potential alterations to the calendar, and a snide dig at some European events.
"I suppose the next big thing will be Russia. Then we have to get this New York thing picking up again. There’s lots of unfinished business - no time to waste one thought on retirement!"
"Look at the Austin race: it was phenomenal. Everybody agreed that it is great that Formula One is back in the States. Maybe we’ll get the Europeans to wake up instead of thinking that it (a race) is a God-given thing. When Europeans perform and do their job we are happy to stay."
"I am - still - a fan of Formula One. Probably the bad thing with me is that I put in lots of effort to build Formula One the way it is now, so this is my baby and I want to look after it. Sooner or later we’re going to have to get a babysitter. When that will be, who knows? I am in very good shape."