Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine believes Sebastian Vettel is “massively overrated” and that none of the current Formula 1 drivers come close to the talent of Michael Schumacher.
Irvine won four races for Ferrari during a four-year spell with the team which included finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship in 1999; a year when Schumacher missed seven races with a broken leg. Irvine rates the German as the best F1 has ever seen, and is critical of Ferrari’s current star driver after seeing Lewis Hamilton dominate in recent years.
“I think Lewis is in a different league from all of them,” Irvine told the BBC. “He’s not in Michael’s league and I don’t even think he is close, although he’s racking up lots of wins. He’s got the best car, there are more races and the competition is debatable.
“I think Vettel is good if he is at the front and doesn’t have anybody to race. When you watch Lewis race, he’s focused on racing, and Lewis is really focused on getting ahead of the other guy.
“Vettel, when he is racing is someone, is focused as much on the other guy as he is on where he is going and inevitably crashes into the other guy, which happens nearly all the time.
“I think Vettel is a good driver, but as a four-times world champion, I just don’t see it. I think he is massively overrated, he’s a one-trick pony and Lewis has a much broader talent.”
However, Irvine believes Hamilton – who has won the four of the past five drivers’ championships – lacks the consistency of Schumacher to be considered on a similar level, despite closing in on the seven-time world champion’s records.
“Michael was on it every day, like [Ayrton] Senna, but Lewis has his off days. If you look over the two years Lewis and [Jenson] Button were together, Button actually outscored him over two years. No-one ever did that to Michael, his level of performance was consistently higher.
“Lewis is an amazingly talented driver. When he first came to Formula 1 he was fantastic to watch, and his overtaking was second to none. He’s probably a better overtaker than Michael was. But for pace, and consistency over a whole weekend, over a whole year, I don’t think anyone touches Michael – even Senna.”