British F1 legend Damon Hill has pointed out the key difference which he believes has allowed Lewis Hamilton to match – and eventually surpass – Michael Schumacher’s achievements in the sport. The German was widely regarded as the undisputed greatest of all time after notching up 91 race wins and seven world titles,
but one of those records has been surpassed by Mercedes ace Hamilton and the other could fall by the end of this season. The 155 podiums and 91 wins Schumacher managed were a fair way clear of anyone who had come before, and many imagined it would be a long time before anyone would come along and surpass those numbers.
But, as it turned out, the man who did eclipse the German’s figures had already been racing in the sport for five years by the time he retired for good. Hamilton had already lifted the world championship title for the first time with McLaren, though the Briton’s true period of success came when he replaced Schumacher at Mercedes for the 2013 season. Six more titles followed, matching the Ferrari legend’s total, with an eighth career success waiting at the end of the current season if he can fend of the challenge of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Add to that a total of 100 race wins and 176 podiums, and it’s easy to see why Hamilton is now included in the GOAT debate. Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Hill hailed the pair’s ability to consistently deliver points and race wins of a long period of time, stating that’s what sets them apart from other drivers. The difference between Hamilton and Schumacher, the 1996 world championship winner added, is the Briton’s ability to switch off from the sport and focus on other parts of his life. “It’s the standard that they perform at, the consistency ” Hill said.
“The ability they have to keep delivering that over years is the remarkable thing. “What Lewis has done is he’s created space for himself where he can get away from Formula 1, because if it’s all about Formula 1 you can get burned out, and he doesn’t look burned out to me. He looks like he’s fresh as a daisy. “There were times when Michael was in tears with the pressure, and then if you’ve seen the Schumacher documentary recently, he does reveal the pressures that he was under, and the responsibility he felt.
“It is draining, but you need to have a balance in your life. “And Lewis has fought hard to give himself [that], and Mercedes and Toto [Wolff] have given him that space. “They haven’t overworked him. They haven’t used up all his free time, he goes and recharges his batteries, comes back and he’s ready to go again. “Just two points separate Hamilton and Verstappen at the top of the current drivers’ standings with seven races to go. The pair have had some high-profile clashes on the track in recent races, with the tension between them set to continue as the title race goes down to the wire.