Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

Vettel has mixed feelings over Hamilton reaching Schumacher’s “almost impossible” record

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says he has mixed feelings over Lewis Hamilton reaching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record for most Formula 1 wins.

A victory for Hamilton this weekend would be the 91st of his career. That would put him level with the record Schumacher has held since 2001, when he surpassed Alain Prost’s milestone of 51 wins.

Vettel moved ahead of Prost into third place on the all-time winners’ list two years ago. But he said Schumacher’s 91 wins has “always been a number that has appeared impossible to reach.”

A long-time fan of Schumacher’s, Vettel said he would be saddened to see the record fall, but pleased for Hamilton.

“Seeing obviously the last years and Lewis’s track record, he was getting closer and closer. And if he – I think it is probably at this point a question of time – reaches that, then on one hand, for sure, I will be sad because Michael is still my hero.

“On the other hand, I would be very happy for Lewis. I think he deserves all the success he has had in the last years and he is going to have in this year. And – I don’t know if he remains, but I guess so – the next years. So a bit half-half. Mixed emotions, but that’s how I feel.”

Vettel’s most recent win last year with the 53rd of his career. “Obviously I’m far away,” he said. “But it was always one of these numbers that seemed impossible, up to the point where somebody gets there and gets close and breaks it.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “Vettel has mixed feelings over Hamilton reaching Schumacher’s “almost impossible” record”

  1. José Lopes da Silva
    24th September 2020, 17:41

    It’s quite clear that the continuous growing of races per season (8 in the Fifties, 16 in the Eighties, etc.) and the different way the sport goes makes the records a little irrelevant today. More than in the past.
    My suggestion to Keith Collantine is to ellaborate statistics that take into account the domination of races per season and the %. Something for Winter days when there is nothing to talk about.
    Example: how many times was a driver able to challenge for the championship in his career (I would include Frentzen’s 99 season; not sure about 97); how many times was a driver the biggest race winner of the year; etc. At the same time, it’s known that Fangio has all the records in % of races participated.
    It’s telling that between 1950 and 1985 only Fangio was able to win back to back championships, something which became the norm from 1985 to 2020. Stuff like these.

    1. between 1950 and 1985 only Fangio was able to win back to back championships

      what? ascari 52-53, brabham 59-60? i’d add also lauda 75-77 if not for incredibly unlucky situation of fire and final race under torrential rain.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        24th September 2020, 23:38

        Good point, thanks.
        It underlines my statement, though. Those were exceptions. From 1985 onwards, it became the norm.

        1. It also highlights that Fangio had other drivers who had to give up there cars to him during races where he had mechanical issues to ensure he scored points. Its a little disingenuous to not highlight in some of the most mechanical prone era he had a huge advantage over his rivals. This thankfully became outlawed and its just a shame it didn’t happen in time to give Moss the title he deserved.

          The sport has changed so much over the years that for every perceived advantage each era had, there were obvious areas where they were disadvantaged. Personally I think the 80s was the pinnacle of difficulty with the maximum innovation, ridiculous engine power, manual gearboxes, unstable aero, High unreliability and still crazy dangerous.

          1. Jose Lopes da Silva
            25th September 2020, 10:05

            Yeah. I guess Fangio had that advantage in the same way later drivers had positions and wins given to them by teammates, not by gentlemanship but by team orders. That could also be a good subject for Winter. Most fans don’t agree with team orders, but the fact is that everyone in the sport itself (drivers, at least) seem to agree with it. It’s a kind of uncurable disconection of expectations.

          2. Very good comment @slowmo

            The 50s were a different time, an era of gentlemen racers I suppose. The drivers had immense respect for Fangio, Moss has mentioned on many occasions of how in awe he was of him. I remember reading an interview with Moss who said Neubauer told him to just follow what Fangio did, he didn’t question it because Fangio doesn’t make mistakes.

            I wholeheartedly agree with you on the 80s, I suppose it was the ultimate man vs machine scenario, F1 has evolved since of course. I wrote into Ask Gary on Autosport years and asked specifically about how the 80s compares to the current era. He responded saying the requirements to be an F1 driver has significantly changed over the years, the aptitude required to drive these days is totally different.

            For me, I’d love to see drivers hustling beasts round a track, right now it all seems (id like to highlight seems) very easy in comparison, it all relative of course. Rose tinted glasses are a helluva drug, but sometimes, drugs can satisfy..:)

  2. Michael Schumacher has one tidbit on his CV and it relates to his deliberate cheating during qualifying at Monaco.
    That is why Lewis Hamilton deserves more respect than Schumacher.

    1. There’s no such thing as one multiple champion deserving more respect than the other.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur True. Hamilton would deserve more respect than Schumacher even if he had won no titles.

    2. Lots of other cheating for Schumacher. Remember when he was using traction control when it was banned? He is the Lance Armstrong of F1. That is actually being a little unfair to Armstrong though.

      1. Your parents must be so proud

        1. Leave my parents out of this and maybe provide a rebuttal. The comparison is a very fair one.

          1. @darryn clearly you must have been a bitter lad when Schumacher was winning. It’s just translated into an opinion that’s so unfair that you don’t realise how bitter you sound when you pass comments like that

          2. @thedoctor03 So make a rebuttal to what I said instead of making personal attacks. Who is the bitter one?

          3. Can you still not see that your comment was in fact a “personal Attack” on a driver? Gosh! So bitter. Let it be. I mean “he” was using traction control? If anything, it was his team. He was the driver. And it wasn’t even proven. Just goes to show your hatred – passing comments like these without expecting flak for it is just naive.

          4. There is much said about Schumacher that is exaggeration or just false. Like Michael being caught cheating with traction control is false. The late rules change meant that teams using it the previous year had the t/c on their software just not accessible. The investigation found it unlikely to have been used and several other teams were in situation similar to Benetton.

          5. @thedoctor03 I see that your English is horrible, but you still resort to ad hominem attacks. My hatred? Maybe it’s time for a look in the mirror. The vegmeister isn’t going to stir by my “personal Attacks” on him. Seriously get some English lessons though. Yours is atrocious.

        2. @darryn Much as I don’t approve of Schumacher’s ruthlessness and tactics at times, I think comparing him to Lance Armstrong is unfair. As far as I understand it – Lance Armstrong was cheating for all of his major race wins and achievements – therefore, none of them are legitimate. Schumacher’s tactics only gained him a small number of extra, undeserved achievements – most of them were legitimate and on merit.

          And if you want to discount some of his victories and championships due to his teams exploiting gray areas of the regulations, then good luck officiating and then revising the entire history of F1 for all teams and drivers who have done the same.

          1. @keithedin Fair points. I just go into the mind of someone that uses traction control when it is banned and that to me is way past the line even Armstrong crossed. That to me would be like Armstrong motor doping. Armstrong did what every body did then. Just better. Schumacher went well past and I was comparing Armstrong’s reputation now as opposed to how bad of a cheat he was. Schumacher was worse.

      2. Awww @darryn. Don’t worry, I’ll let you be. Just take your medication on time today. And if you still feel low, upset, angry and/or upset, don’t be a keyboard warrior. Pick up the phone and talk to someone. Loneliness isn’t a good thing :)

        1. Pitiful how some people cannot face facts and resort to lame personal attacks instead.

          For the record, for me Schumacher’s cheating is also a serious obstacle in considering him GOAT, and I think that it is a good thing that he will be soon replaced on the top of the charts by a driver who is (for all the small slip-ups of his own) a much better role model (although I would definitely not appreciate if my kids decided to follow his fashion sense :-)).

    3. Schumacher’s flaw was not being always sportsmanlike and hamilton’s flaw was not really having a lot of years without a dominant car in comparison to pretty much every other driver, schumacher included.

      1. Is it Lewis’s fault if the other teams can’t catch up with a Mercedes F1 car?

        1. Its not his “fault” it his “luck”.
          Of course good drivers will eventually end up in the best car. But in the case of lewis he started in the best and his switch came at the right moment to end up in the all time greatest car for years: the merc.

          1. Funny how “luck” keeps following him around, one could almost assume he may have a part in generating that “luck”.

        2. It is not his fault and he fully deserves his wins.
          But the other teams did not have a chance to catch up for a good number of years due to the token system.
          In my opinion this contributed significantly to his number of wins.

          1. Schumacher had to struggle with Benetton before making it a championship winner and the same with Ferrari which was at its lowest point in early 90s. Even then, apart from a couple of years, Ferrari was never dominant and had to share victories with McLaren, Williams, Renault, Jordan.

            Hamilton joined F1 with the best team of its time and yet again joined a race winning team in Mercedes just before the hybrid era. As Alonso or Vettel would testify, HAM was indeed lucky to be at the right place at the right time. That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that he was mostly better than the team-mate who was his only competitor for majority of his career.

            In terms of a complete driver than can fight through adversities and lift the team with him, Schumacher was a much better driver. I would place Alain Prost in the same vein as some one being able to improve the machinery and not only being able to get the most out of it.

      2. @esploratore So Hamilton’s ‘flaw’ was that he was so talented he got a place at a top team and beat a 2 times champion over his first season, just to show the placement was justified? That’s a weird kind of flaw.

    4. Don’t forget the only “world champion” disqualified for entire season and habit of deliberately hitting on track rivals. Also given disqualification wins, poles and podium from that season should be strippped away.

      1. You also got 10s stop & go penalties for things that hardly give a 5s time penalty these days. Penalties were a bit harsher.

        1. Harsher penalties LOL!
          Remind me what harsh penalty Msc got for deliberately ramming Hill in Australia 1994, after he knew he had broken his suspension with a driver error?
          As I remember he was not penalised in any meaningful way.
          He should never have been allowed that WDC and should therefore be on 6 not 7 WDC!

        2. Yet the Kangaroo court allowed this champion to get away with the worst display of driving standard ever shown(by aloowing to keep his wins, poles and podiums). Senna was sent home for 6 months when he failed to return to track where he left off. Guess it does help being driver of MaFIA.

    5. Lewis hamilton cheated Australia 2009 by blatantly lying to stewards in order to take a podium off another driver he is not squeaky clean either

  3. Ironically, he helped Hamilton quite a bit in terms of WDCs.

    1. @xenomorph91 By suggesting Ferrari should hire Vettel?

      1. He’s talking about the mercedes development he did before leaving.

        1. He probably had a minimal, If any, input on that car (W05 hybrid).

          But people come with this talk to elevate him and talk Hamilton down.

          I would like to see some evidence to back that up at least once.

          1. Well, I don’t really believe it either, but Brawn did say something in those lines.

        2. @esploratore Yeah that was nice of Brawn to pretend that something good became of the Schumacher at Mercedes debacle. They took a championship winning car and then had 3 seasons of languishing at the front of the midfield.

          But sure, Schumacher helped develop that car into a “front” mid field car. Which you can claim was “key” to have Hamilton then be able to lift the team to the dominating force that Mercedes has been over the last 7 years of “domination”.

          It’s indeed exactly where Verstappen is showing to be lacking. He just can’t seem to be able to help the team move forward.

          Right now we also see the struggles at Ferrari where they are completely in tatters because their drivers are not helping the team. It’s clearly not just the engine since they should still be as much faster than Alpha Romeo and Haas as they were before this season.

          1. @Edvaldo – I am a huge MSC fan, grew up watching him. I understand his faults but still a huge fan. I readily admit that Hamilton is better. Saying that one driver might have helped develop a culture in a team that a later driver benefited from, takes nothing away from either. Grow up. It is actually possible to respect multiple drivers at once.


            They took a championship winning car and then had 3 seasons of languishing at the front of the midfield.

            The Honda that became Brawn was a massive design investment, and it’s early success in 2009 had to do with that prior investment, the luck of getting a Merc engine, and the benefit of the double diffuser. The car won 6 of first 7 races. But in the last 10 races had only 2 wins and 5 total podiums across both cars. Vettel had 2 and 5 by himself in the last 10.

            On top of that Brawn specifically said they could not invest in the 2010 car because they had no backers to start. And that the 2010 car was just a warmed up 2009 car. So pretending that the Brawn was somehow a dominant car that should have continued to win is ridiculous at best, and just a lie at worst.

            So they went from a rewarmed 2009 car in 2010 to a win in 2012, and in 2013 (the year after MSC left) they had 3 wins and were ahead of Ferrari. If MSC was unable to help develop a car, it’s just luck that both Ferrari in the 1990s and Merc in the 2010s were able to progress around him, right? I don’t think anyone is saying that MSC is the only reason that his teams ever won, but to say that he played no part or was not a significant benefit to the teams he was on is basically impossible to believe.

            I get your sarcasm about the car mattering more than the drivers. And when the gaps are as large as they are between the front runners (Merc now, Merc/Ferr in recent seasons) and everyone else, that does seem to be the case. It is definitely not all due to the drivers that cars get better or languish. But multiple discussions over the years about drivers helping the engineers vs being standoffish or not providing useful feedback, does seem to indicate that drivers can and do impact car development.

  4. Lewis Hamilton is also a cheat ..when he knew he was not going to win championship I tried to back his then team mate down and be caught up in traffic .when he was instructed to speed up .his reply .” I dont care I have lost championship ” he has turned f1 into a political platform . Every teammate Hamilton has .they are never equal . Hamilton controls Mercedes .and toto wolf . Fact ..I am 71 and started interest in f1 .in 1950s as a very young lad ..todays f1 .is not driver and car .get rid of radios bring back pit boards.. .they would never handle it very disappointed .I stopped my interest .quite a while ago now

    1. how is ignoring your team’s instructions cheating? driving slowly deliberately (in a race) isn’t cheating. i totally disagree

    2. You’re 71?

    3. Scott, if you’ve been watching F1 that long, you should know that driving slowly is not cheating. I understand that the sport has changed dramatically over the time you have been watching, but everything changes.

      If your favorite driver got a new engine and that new engine had more power and helped that driver win, you’d be happy and excited, right? You’d probably be glad that the team were able to find more power in the design change that helped win the race. That’s development, that’s progress. Multiply that across all the parts of the car, across 70 years, and you get from there to here.

      I don’t think any of us like every change, but that’s the sport.

  5. With Hamilton’s incredible run since 2015 it’s easy to forget that Vettel has achieved enough to be in the discussion of the greats himself. He might be the only one who could ever get within a shout of matching Hamilton/Schumacher numbers, because even for someone already in the sport now like Verstappen, it takes a long time and so many things have to go right. You can look back at a window beginning in 2018 when it seemed Ferrari really had the car to let Vettel resume his run of wins and to really have a battle of greats in different cars, but it has just all fallen apart.

    1. This exactly diminishes Lewis results: Vettel. If there was ever a driver who’s tally does not represent his quality, its Vettel. Mister I can only win if I start from the front row in the best car. It clearly showcases the Non-value of stats. Vettel wouldnt have had a single WDC if not for the RB dominance (and ok, the clearly untalented Webber). His 4 really don’t hold any value to me.

      1. Mayrton – That doesn’t make a lot of sense. You saw at Monza what the Mercedes cars could and couldn’t do. It may be the strongest F1 car ever made and it couldn’t follow well. If you design a car that consistently gets pole positions, why would you design it to follow? I assume the RBR from the latter half of 2009-2013 is pretty much the same.

        I do not think Vettel is as good as Senna/Prost/Hakkinen/Schumacher/Hamilton. My opinion is that he needed a car that suited him. When he got it, he was almost unstoppable. When he gets something other than that, he seems to suffer. I believe the others I listed could drive around problems more, get the most out of the cars no matter what.

        And Schumacher would have had fewer WDCs without the dominant Ferrari, and Hamilton without the dominant Merc, and Senna/Prost fewer without the dominant Mclarens and Williams. They got in those positions because of their talent, so did Vettel.

  6. Unfortunately comparative stats based on NUMBERS in F1 are becoming far fewer in number due to the changing rules and circumstances…I’d much rather the media, F1 and reporters do away with such a state and focus on percentages for a better representation of performance…numbers mean nothing when establishing ‘success’ given so many factors including the following that just come immediately to mind…

    – Number of races per season = higher number of races competed in = higher number of pole position opportunities = higher number of podium opportunities = higher number of win opportunities.

    I’m not saying Vettel or Hamilton’s achievements are not deserved or respected, but a fairer representation of their achievements would be via the % stat than the number. The records for number of points and races in particular annoy me as your clearly comparing apples to pears to oranges to peanuts (!)

    1. But Liberty needs to run a circus. Dont forget: No viewers, no money. They call it internally record facilitating instruments

    2. his win percentage is higher than Schumacher’s, also, i’m not saying i necessarily disagree, but the number of world championships doesn’t like and has nothing to do with the number of races per season and the changing rules. Lewis will have seven after this season ends

      1. I mean doesn’t lie, not doesn’t like…

      2. @nickthegreek – Not here to downplay Lewis, but his win percentage is higher due to more races per season. So every season with a dominant car (which both Lewis and Michael had) with more races, means higher win percentage. Example, 2002 season, MSC on podium every single race. Only 17 races. Were there 21-22 races that year, another 3-4 wins. You would quickly need to add 15-20 wins to MSC’s total for all his seasons.

        Titles does lean to Hamilton. He will have more by the time he retires and will go down as the greatest ever. I know this was said about MSC just a few years ago but I think the only way to keep the sport alive will need to include better competition and I don’t see any driver getting more than 9-10 titles without a dominant car/team (which again, both HAM and MSC had).

        1. More races per season is irrelevant to percentage of wins, you clearly do not understand statistics.

  7. Hamilton win % is 3rd of all time (34.75%) behind Fangio and Ascari.
    Schumacher is 7th on that list (29.55%)

    1. I am inclined to also look at this number as decisive element. However the fail rate of the car in Senna/Prost days was almost at 50%. So I would get the technical DNFs out of that equation. I think that would give quite a different list.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        25th September 2020, 10:10

        That works on old viodegames were DNF were random. But in real life you have to take into account the way the driver takes care of his machine, especially before the current era. Prost was especially good at taking care of his car.

      2. Yeah but that also means they gained more wins from mechanical failure as well as losing them potentially.

  8. i hope he breaks all of those records.
    Not so much because they need to be broken, but just so the “it’s the car, not the driver” crowd can moan about it forever, choking on their salty tears as they sob into their weak beers somewhere in Little England.

    1. Indeed, I will start: 3 to 4 WDC in a more equal field is what Lewis would be at right now. Great driver, but no goat.

  9. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    25th September 2020, 4:56

    Whatever number the new record might be at (110-115?), I see it being broken in the next 15-20 years owing to the greater number of races per season, and the likelihood of a single team domination in the next era.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      25th September 2020, 10:21

      If NASCAR has 36 races, why can’t F1 have 30? It’s a matter of having continental teams of mechanics, less people for each car and a series of rounds concentrated in each continent. It’s not where we are heading, but we can imagine it – and then all records could be easily broken, yes.

      1. not all records. doesn’t matter how many races each season has, the number of championships won doesn’t lie

  10. i hope hamilton finally breaks that record so that all these fan discussions will stop. i am getting sick and tired of people always coming up with stuff about schumacher being a cheat, hamilton being a saint, bwoah..
    and no, i will continue watching f1 and will continue reading comments because i am stupid and can not do otherwise..

    1. You do realise Schumacher was a proven cheat, its not remotely debatable. Sure you can debate whether it devalues your opinion of him is a driver but he cheated numerous times and that is a fact.

      1. So is hamilton Australia 2009

  11. I think Vettel formulated that nicely. Have to say many of the reactions here are disappointingly against Hamilton for some reason.

    Personally I feel that Schumacher was thrilling in his driving, but also ruthless to the point of being unsportive in getting his results, which Hamilton hasn’t been, certainly not to that point (see that Allison interview recently, though I get the strong feelings in the comment threads). Schumacher without the over the line stuff might have been down one championship, and a few wins, but would maybe too have gained the 1997 one, and in the end my feeling is he didn’t need to, but couldn’t help himself.

    Did Schumacher or Hamilton only do it because of the car? Well, not really – sure they had quite dominant seasons, and the fact they strung together, like Vettel, several championships after each other certainly shows them and the team having a patch of being the best all around, but that also goes for Senna and/or Prost (and Hamilton certainly equaled if not beat Alonso, well and Button, Rosberg) who had the best car in most of their WDC years, same for Fangio, and the lotus of Clark, to name a few. Schumacher was visibly a leader and hard worker in getting Ferrari to that point, which isn’t so easy to see for Hamilton, but all indications are he does inspire and drives the big team around him.

    In the end, they and circumstances, times, are different, but both showed plenty of great feats of driving, making races their own by what they did with tires and/or strategy, and working with a team around them to be unbeatable for a long time.

    As Vettel says, the record clearly was going to get broken, if not by him (might have gone differenty after all w. RBR and/or Ferrari) then by the Hamilton/Mercedes machine. It doesn’t change that in his time and long after Schumacher remains a very impressive and memorable figure of the sport, who on his own gave live to F1 in Germany for decades, which is quite the feat.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      25th September 2020, 10:12

      Hope you don’t count me among those reactions against Hamilton. My point was that the changes in the sport make the statistics less relevant. I think he totally deserves his success.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      25th September 2020, 10:14

      Schumacher could have won 97?

      1. that was a nice post @bosyber! and Jose, i think he meant Schumacher could have won in 97, if he perhaps conceded the position to villeneuve in that corner but would have not crashed and continued and maybe an opportunity would have come to pass him least that is how I understood it ;)

        1. Thanks, yes milansson that’s how I meant it indeed.

          No, Jose Lopes da Silva I meant those that feel a need to put hamilton down when they perceive others saying their hero isn’t the definite best (and also vice versa, but that’s less visible here currently), rather than just seeing his numbers add up as a result of a driver that’s doing great, just as others before were special.

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