Lewis Hamilton matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Formula 1 victories at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix would be bittersweet for Sebastian Vettel.
Schumacher became F1’s most successful driver in terms of race wins back at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix, when he won his 52nd race to pull one clear of Alain Prost. The German went on to extend that record to 91 wins, which Hamilton can equal this weekend in Russia, and Vettel — who has 53 wins himself to sit third on the all-time list — says it is a tally that never seemed achievable even at the height of his own dominance with Red Bull.
“I think it’s always been a number that has appeared impossible to reach,” Vettel said. “Now seeing the last years, and Lewis’ track record, he was getting closer and closer, and I think at this point it is a question of time when he reaches that.
“On one hand I will for sure be sad, as Michael is still my hero, but on the other hand I will be very happy for Lewis — I think he deserves all the success he has had. (So) a bit half-and-half, mixed emotions. For myself I don’t know — I’m far away — but it was always one of those numbers that seems impossible up to the point that somebody gets there, gets close and then breaks it.”
Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc expressed similar feelings, admitting it will be a shame to see a driver so synonymous with the Scuderia no longer leading the way, but acknowledging the depth of Hamilton’s achievement.
“I’m pretty aligned with what Seb said,” Leclerc said. “Lewis only deserves it. He has been extremely consistent throughout the years, has always been fighting for top positions.
“On one side it’s sad to see the Michael record getting beaten as obviously he has been a huge part of Formula 1, especially for Ferrari, but on the other hand it’s only deserved for Lewis and I’m happy for him too if he manages to do that.”