The battle for F1’s greatest: Lewis Hamilton vs Michael Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton is not letting anyone breathe easily and is coming for every single cup. The racer on Sunday won his seventh Formula One world title to equal the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher, which then leaves the big question. Who is the greatest F1’s driver? The British star or the German legend?

Recent statistics show that Hamilton has raced for 14 seasons and has taken part in 264 Grands Prix since 2007 while Schumacher competed for 19 seasons with 307 races in two spells – 1991-2006 and 2010-2012. This year Hamilton surpassed two other Schumacher records – number of podiums (163 against 155) and victories (94 against 91).

In qualifying, Hamilton has the clear edge with 97 pole positions dwarfing Schumacher’s 68, whereas Schumacher has more fastest laps – 77 to 53. At the age of 35, Hamilton still appears to have time on his side although he has yet to start negotiations on a new contract with Mercedes. The number of Grands Prix each year has increased over time. In the Schumacher era, there were an average of 16 every season. In Hamilton’s time there have been an average of 19.

For Mercedes technical director James Allison, who worked with both Hamilton and Schumacher, it is their “burning desire” for victory that distinguishes them from “simply very good drivers”.

“All the truly great champions probably have more in common than they have differences, in that they are all unusually determined,” he said. “The fact Lewis still cares about winning championships with the same ardour that he had when he was an 18-year-old boy, is what sets him, Michael and the other great champions apart. Clearly they were near the front of the queue when God was handing out physical gifts.”

But in terms of who is the greatest of the two men, Allison won’t be drawn. “Unless they actually run alongside one another in a car, then you can’t properly tell.” All that said, when it comes to pure speed on the track, Hamilton and Schumacher are in the slipstream of the late Ayrton Senna, the world champion on three occasions.

In a recent F1 study using artificial intelligence, it was concluded that Schumacher was 0.114 slower than the Brazilian while Hamilton was 0.275 behind.


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