Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

Hamilton’s success not just due to his car, say rivals, as he nears Schumacher’s record

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton’s rivals say his success is fully deserved, as he makes his first attempt to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of career victories today.

Hamilton’s next win will put him level with Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 grand prix victories, which was set in 2006.

Like Schumacher, Hamilton has been able to achieved sustained success and win multiple championships due to the quality of equipment he’s driven. But his rivals say that does not diminish his achievement.

“I think what Lewis is on course to achieve, and I’m sure he will overtake all of these stats, it is incredible,” said George Russell. “He’s obviously a fantastic driver. He’s been on it from the first day he jumped in a Formula 1 car and I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him.

George Russell, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2020
Russell: Hamilton’s out-performed his team mates
“A lot of critics will say a lot of it’s down to the car he’s in. But he’s always had a team mate who’s been out there and nine times out of 10 out-performed them and done a fantastic job.

“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Michael Schumacher, I’ve a huge amount of respect for Lewis Hamilton, they’re both greats, but I’ll be pleased for Lewis to see him take those 91 or 92 victories and live long into the record books.”

Having a competitive car brings with it the pressure of having to deliver at the highest level for a sustained period, said Daniel Ricciardo.

“He’s been in Mercedes and they’ve dominated so surely it’s a bit easier for him. But it’s easy to say that.

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“Yes, it’s more likely that he’s going to be on the podium this weekend than a lot of the others. But to have that expectation, that pressure, year on, year out and to keep delivering, that’s something in itself, let alone breaking all these records.”

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who described Schumacher as his “hero”, also agreed Hamilton deserves his success.

Esteban Ocon, Renault, Sochi Autodrom, 2020
Ocon: “He’s on top of his game”
Another childhood Schumacher fan, Esteban Ocon, said it was “pretty crazy” to imagine Hamilton breaking his records.

“Michael is my idol, he’s the one I always looked to,” said Ocon. “He was obviously dominating when I was in my karting days, very young.

“After his domination we thought it’s going to be quite some time before someone can do that again. And it didn’t take so much time. Obviously Lewis came and he’s probably going to get that done.

“So it’s very impressive. I had the chance to work closely with Lewis last year and to watch it from the inside. And he’s on top of his game and definitely all of this is deserved.”

Hamilton will start today’s race from pole position as he bids to take a record-equalling 91st win. Max Verstappen, who he shares the front row with, was more restrained in his praise.

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“It’s pretty impressive, of course, to win so many races,” said Verstappen. “And then, of course, in the end, championships as well in Formula 1.”

Verstappen: My goal is to stop him winning
Hamilton’s recent success has come at the expense of drivers like Verstappen, who has nonetheless managed to score nine wins since his breakthrough triumph four years ago. He said he isn’t dwelling on Hamilton’s achievements, or what it means to beat a driver with his record.

“I don’t really think about that,” he said. “I just look at myself. I try to win races, I try to win championships. So I’m not really too bothered about who is driving in the championship and the amount of race wins they have, or championships.

“That’s anyway nothing I can control. The only thing I can control is myself and try to work with the team to be more competitive so they stop winning.”

Video: The history of F1’s ‘most wins’ record

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2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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32 comments on “Hamilton’s success not just due to his car, say rivals, as he nears Schumacher’s record”

  1. When 100/100 arrives later next season then will that be enough to silence the experts as to who is the greatest Grand Prix Driver. One Hundred Victories / One Hundred Poles in 2021. Finally something unattainable by either Schumacher as of recent. Not bitter. Michaels story just still bugs me.

    1. It will always be slightly tainted by the car dominance, but great driver for sure

      1. If his achievements are tainted by “car dominance” then the same surely goes for Schumacher then? I think either a lot of current F1 fans didn’t watch F1 back in the early 00’s or they have short memories. And no one can claim with a straight face that Irvine and Barrichello were competitive teammates.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Formula_One_World_Championship

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Formula_One_World_Championship

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Formula_One_World_Championship

        1. Something to also note, the old points system awarded less than half of the current points…To put that into perspective Schuacher in the Ferrari was 94 points ahead of Montoya who was in the 2nd fastest car in 2002..That was the equivalent of SIX race wins Michael could have sat out SIX races and still finished the championship ahead of the 2nd fastest car on the grid.

        2. That’s three seasons. Schumacher never got the best car on the grid until his 11th year in F1.

          Hamilton’s had a good car since coming into F1 and the most dominant car of all time for 7 soon to be 8 straight years.

          1. So the 1995 Benneton wasn’t the best car on the grid? Okaaaaay…Abd 3 seasons? Seriously? Those were just the 3 seasons that the Ferrari was on a different planet compared to all of the other cars on the grid, they still had the best car on the grid in 2003, 2000 and 1999. If Michael hadn’t broken his leg in the British grand prix he would have easily won the 1999 season. Irvine of all people almost won the championship for god sake.

          2. No, the Williams was the better car in 1995. McLaren was the best car in 2000. Ferrari only had a tiny edge in 2003 up against two other teams.

            Schumacher’s only had a clearly superior car in three seasons. Hamilton for the past seven seasons.

          3. Indeed, hamilton’s car dominance is crazy: I might remind the hamilton fans, or in any case those who say hamilton is the better driver cause of the stats, that hamilton had LESS THAN 20 WINS before getting the dominant mercedes in 2014!

            Schumacher had over 50 wins before getting dominant ferraris.

            I see no metric to say hamilton is better than schumacher, or prost, or fangio, ascari or clark or alonso, at a minimum.

  2. Who knows how far this will go, but right now there is no end in sight.

    Ferrari reign was destroyed on purpose by multiple regulation changes. So far Mercedes did just fine.

    Maybe cost cap cab dent their supremacy.

  3. Hopefully the new regulations can give us another dominant team for 7 years and make this whole discussion moot.
    Even better if Mercedes manage to extend their dominance and Lewis retires a 15 times champion.
    What a great sport indeed.

  4. Schumacher won his first two championships with a Benetton that was inferior to the Williams.

    Then left Benetton as the current double world champion to take Ferrari back to glory. If you were picking a team to go to at the end of 1995, you’d probably join Williams, or take a punt on McLaren who had recently partnered with Mercedes-Benz over Ferrari with their dysfunctional culture.

    It’s unheard for a driver to win a championship (two consecutive in Schumacher’s case) then willingly leave championships on the table to voluntarily go to dysfunctional team to bring it back to glory.

    What’s incredible about Schumacher is that as a man in his 20’s was able to basically build a team around him to deliver the car he needed to overcome the might of Williams then McLaren. He went to Ferrari calling the shots basically. No driver has done it since, and no driver will do it again.

    Vettel only had a genuine dominant car in 2011 and the second half of 2013. Schumacher had a dominant car in 2002, 2004 and to a lesser extent 2001 (similar to the advantage Hamilton had in 2017-18).

    That’s three seasons by my count.

    Hamilton’s had a dominant car for 7 consecutive years now.

    If someone told me at the start of the hybrid era that Hamilton would have a car routinely 0.5 to 1.0 second quicker than the field throughout this era with Rosberg and Bottas as his main rivals I’d say he should have 120 wins and 8 championships.

    1. The 1994 Benetton won 8 of 16 races, the Williams won 7.
      The 1995 Benetton won 11 of 17 races. The Williams won 5.
      How was the Benetton “inferior to the Williams”??

      1. Schumacher made the difference.

        You obviously didn’t watch F1 back then if you think the Williams wasn’t the quickest car.

        1. The facts as you seem to see them for Hamilton indicate Schumacher’s Benetton was the faster car in 94 and 95. Of course Schumacher never had a teammate who was allowed to challenge in any of his cars too which devalues his achievements. That plus he shouldn’t have been allowed to keep his wins and poles from 97 anyway.

          1. Benetton was at a massive deficit to the Williams in 1994, but the gap was closed some what in 1995 when Benetton got the Renault engine. Williams were still the works team though.

            All of Schumacher’s teammates were encouraged to drive as quick as they could but they were simply slower.

            Button scored more points than Hamilton in their three seasons together because Hamilton is at about the level of a Button.

          2. @DavidBondo Classification is based on the total of point earned for the year (and not on total points accumulated in a number of years). Based on the official classifications for those 3 years spent as teammates, Hamilton did beat Button 2 out of 3. If you could rid of all the ones who scored more than Hamilton and Button during those 3 years, the former would be crowned champion.
            Your selective picking of total points over 3 years omits many other important facts (number of poles, number of victories). For your enlightenment, I have included the following link.

            https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/hamilton-and-buttons-head-to-head-record-at-mclaren/3219323/

            You are going to have some tough time dealing with the fact that Hamilton will hold most of the significant F1 records during years to come. Max is the one I can see breaking them, but it will take years. I hope you can make it during those years while continuing your crusade to diminish Hamilton’s achievement. Best of luck.

          3. Janquetil, those records are hollow, a handful of drivers had a few years in a dominant cars, schumacher, senna, prost and so on, but no one had anywhere near hamilton’s years in dominant cars, any top driver at his place would’ve done the same.

  5. One thing people haven’t compared Schumacher to Hamilton is the total amount of major racing controversies. Schumacher has more.

    1. Ron’s golden haired boy in 2007, lying to stewards in 2009, thought he was sharing Button’s telemetry in 2012, accusing Button of unfollowing on social media, team orders to his advantage in his second race for Mercedes in 2013, refusing team orders in 2014 when Rosberg was on a different strategy (cost the team a win, Rosberg had several times Malaysia 2013, Monaco 2014 had followed team order to Hamilton’s benefit), throwing a cap at Rosberg, accusing team of sabotaging him, crashing into Rosberg Spain 2016, dangerous driving at Abu Dhabi 2016, having Bottas give up a win for him at Russia 2018.

      1. Yet Bondo and others who’ve never touched a single seater steering wheel will come and try to dispute this. Armchair expertise is really funny.

      2. Bondo – in your world, throwing a cap to someone is the same as parking on a narrow track to prevent rivals from completing their qualifying attempts? I really wonder what you’re smoking.

        1. It was classless and being a smart alec.

          Imagine the outrage if Verstappen did it to Hamilton.

          1. I would also add the two years where Hamilton crashed into his championship rival in the last race to win the title. That was despicable of him. Oh sorry, that was Schumacher, not Hamilton. My bad :-)

          2. All the proven actual cheating by Schumacher was indeed classless and lacking in sportsmanship.

  6. Motorsport and especially F1 is one of the few sports where competitors(drivers) from other teams are handicapped. And therefore it truly is a teamsport, yet the media emphasis is 95% on the driver while the performance mostly comes from the car, food for endless useless discussions.

  7. @David Bondo.

    Why do you dislike Hamilton so much? What did he do that makes him undeserving of his achievements?

    I just want to understand?

    1. I personally don’t dislike hamilton, I just think merit should be included in the records and given car is so important in f1 and schumacher won over 50 races before getting a dominant car and hamilton less than 20… I’d call him carried by mercedes.

  8. Indeed not just the car, but also being protected by the team after Rosberg left.

  9. Wow MR Bondo why soo much resentment towards hamilton? What has he done to you? How has he offended you? Surely not by being a 6 time almost 7 time champion, surely not all his poles, surely not his 90 wins? What ever could it be? Oh wait its because he drives the best car every year. I mean the team oweners must be daft, dumb and foolish to allow hamilton to drive their cars because he is such a slow, poor, bad, driver. Am i right mr Bondo?

    1. No one gave schumacher the best car in the first year, did they? Or to senna? Maybe they were bad drivers according to your logic.

  10. I hope this Bondo guy doesn’t ruin Monday’s stats article again.

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