Lewis Hamilton landed here in Sochi, recently listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
And on Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix, the 35-year-old Brit will go down in history, aiming to rival the once seemingly untouchable peak of Michael Schumacher’s 91 victories.
As such, there is a lot of talk at the Black Sea coast resort about who is the bigger of the two Formula 1 giants.
Lewis Hamilton arrived in Sochi, listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People
The 35-year-old British driver aims to match Michael Schumacher’s 91 race wins (pictured)
In my opinion, after 90 wins and counting, Hamilton trumps Schumacher for the main reason that his career is spotless due to dark deeds on the track. Not once, at least seriously, has the six-time world champion acted unsportsmanlike.
He has raced hard. He hasn’t given a quarter of an hour. But he has never tarnished his reputation by the desperate destruction of a rival, a claim that cannot be made for the brilliant German who, sadly enough, is still recovering from the terrible skiing accident he suffered in France nearly seven years ago. Alps suffered. .
Of course, Schumacher is revered around the world and was much loved by his teammates in Maranello, a one-horse town, as well as Benetton, where he won the first two of his seven titles, and then Mercedes on his fateful return from his first retirement.
He is a family man. Behind its austere appearance hides a sensitive soul and the caring private individual who was the main benefactor of the original tsunami call. He was also lightning fast, a master in the rain. But the litany of his race crimes counts against him, even when we recognize that he was the best of his day.
The black spots are well documented. He won the first of his World Championships in 1994 by kicking Damon Hill’s Williams in the final race in Adelaide. I asked Hill about that on Friday.
“Adelaide,” he mused. Is the memory painful? “Remind me again, Adelaide, have I ever been there?” he said jokingly, hiding lingering bitter doubts about his feelings.
Then, in 1997, Schumacher unsuccessfully tried to knock Jacques Villeneuve off the track in Jerez, Spain. He was disqualified from the championship – the first and only time this has happened – and lost second place in the standings as an embarrassing outcome.
And I will never forget that feverish night in Monaco in 2006, when he was sent to the back of the starting grid for deliberately stopping on the race line to take Fernando Alonso from pole position, once again with no success.
“A cheap cheat,” said Keke Rosberg, 1982 world champion.
Hamilton, of course, is not quite dressed in the clothes of virtue. Young and under pressure from a McLaren team that felt picked up by the FIA in the aftermath of the Spygate scandal of the previous years, he lied to Melbourne stewards in 2009 about giving up a seat.
And, at perhaps his lowest moment, he tweeted the telemetry of his then McLaren teammate Jenson Button in a fit of pique. Paranoia then tugged at him, just like in other turns. But, ironically, given that Hamilton’s childhood hero was Ayrton Senna, it was Schumacher who recreated the insane victory at any cost off the knee. Lewis doesn’t.
Schumacher is, of course, revered all over the world and was much loved by his teammates
You could, of course, almost cut the history of F1 and danger in half. The carbon fiber chassis ended the ‘deadly era’ in the mid-1980s.
Those who led the way risked too much to downplay their behavior by risking their lives and those of others by stooping deeply.
There were exceptions and Nino Farina, the first world champion, was one, especially before World War II. “He could play very dirty,” said Sir Stirling Moss, that most imperishable sportsman. Most of the others, many very good racers and a few real greats such as John Surtees, Graham Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart, Denny Hulme, Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda wore honorific laurels. Sir Jack Brabham was a fraction less pure, as he was inclined to throw a few stones in the faces of his rivals.
“Michael and Lewis cannot be more different as personalities and in their approach to racing,” Damon Hill told me. They are not the same creatures at all, except they were or are incredibly competitive. Their approach to everything is different.
Schumacher won the first of his World Championships in 1994 by kicking in Damon Hill
‘Yes, they have the same talents – reflexes, the things they are adapted for. But in terms of creativity, Lewis is more of an artist. He’s more instinctive.
Michael was quite sober in his persona, quite icy. When he entered the paddock he looked like a man who meant business. Lewis is a much warmer person and also shows his vulnerability. When it came to racing, those traits have been or were confirmed. I have a hard time remembering an aggressive move Lewis made. I can’t think of many.
‘He is a tough racer. There were a few hits with Nico Rosberg. But you don’t get the impression he’s a killer.
“But you would be more wary of him with Michael than with Lewis. They are cut from different cloths. I never thought I would see someone make Michael’s count of Grand Prix wins. I don’t think anyone did. I don’t think it’s understandable.
Hamilton (left) lied to the Melbourne stewards in 2009 about giving up a seat
Lewis pretends he doesn’t know about Michael’s records, but I’m not buying that for a minute. He kept the records in his head for a long time and now we see the last pages of this story. ‘
Hamilton has been criticized – sometimes here – for spreading thin and, as we feared, jeopardizing his career.
He likes fashion, music, the red carpet. But we must now accept that he has protected his talent through the breadth of his “distractions.” They released him and extended his life.
By contrast, Schumacher was exhausted in 2006, when Ferrari, unable to get a quick and unequivocal answer to whether to sign a new deal, paid the earth to Kimi Raikkonen and announced the departure of their greatest champion on the day. that he celebrated it. the penultimate of his 91 glories, in Monza.
Hamilton’s ‘derivations’ have given him a release and extended his life in Formula 1
“Lewis has nurtured and nurtured his talent,” added Hill. ‘He has a clear understanding of how he works and can deliver more than anyone else I’ve seen.
Senna pushed herself to the limit and maybe even further. Others put too much pressure on themselves. Lewis doesn’t have it. He measured himself. He has kept the fun and motivation factor. There have been tough times, but he hasn’t made it any more difficult than it should be.
‘It still looks fresh. His performances have been astonishing recently. Look at his qualifying round in Mugello a few weeks ago. And his performance at Spa – turning that great job into a parking lot. In a book ranking the greatest Formula 1 drivers, journalist and sage Alan Henry ranked Schumacher in eleventh place.
It was published just after Hamilton’s rise.
By contrast, Schumacher was worn out in 2006, when Ferrari signed Kimi Raikkonen
The young Englishman was ranked 31st – a bold claim at the time. Henry chided Schumacher for demanding absolute number 1 status from the team and pointing out his anomalies. Still, the 11th was too hard.
Henry also found that during a race weekend, Schumacher got off the track more than any other great – in one season, at every Grand Prix weekend. It was another mark.
Lewis’s mistakes are indeed rare. He’s an artist, as Hill says. So he’s inches above the hit legend he will soon rival, possibly as early as Sunday.
Russian Grand Prix training and qualifying, on Saturday from 9.45 am LIVE on Sky Sports F1; race on Sunday from 12.05 pm.