Sebastian Vettel says he has huge respect for Lewis Hamilton’s achievement of equaling Michael Schumacher’s record of race wins but says nobody yet matches the legendary German’s abilities in his eyes.
Hamilton’s win in the Eifel Grand Prix was his 91st and moves him alongside Schumacher at the top of the all-time list in Formula 1, giving him the chance to set a new record at the next race in Portimao. While Vettel is sure Hamilton will provide a new benchmark, he says he struggles to look at Schumacher and Hamilton in the same way as he has been inspired by one and a rival to the other.
“I can’t respect his efforts enough,” Vettel said. “I think it has been a number in my head that I always thought would never be beaten or equaled. I think we can be quite certain he will exceed this number.
HAMILTON v SCHUMACHER: THEIR 91ST WINS
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 13, 2020
“Nevertheless I can always say Michael will always be my hero and I think Michael had something about him that I haven’t seen in other drivers so far.
“It’s probably the fact I looked up to him when I was a child, and Lewis I didn’t look up to when I was a child as I was racing him, so it’s a different situation, but probably in another 15-20 years’ time there will be more admiration for that. But obviously when you are still active you are looking at yourself and not so much at others, but as I said you can’t cherish him enough for what he has achieved.”
Expanding on what set Schumacher apart, Vettel says his opinion is also influenced by time spent with the seven-time F1 world champion racing other machinery.
“Well, I think he was just better than anybody else I have seen so far. I think he had a natural talent that is very difficult to explain. If you see him go-karting… obviously I didn’t see him at a young age but at an older age, I was happy to join him in the Race of Champions a couple of times and you see a bit more skills and car control.
“Both from the karting and the Race of Champions experience, I think he had a natural ability that as I said I haven’t seen with anyone else so far. On top of that he had an incredible work ethic but I think it is a combination of the two that stands out. I haven’t seen a match yet.”