Sebastian Vettel insists it is “very clear” his Formula One rival Lewis Hamilton is one of the sport’s all-time greats as he compared him to Michael Schumacher, widely regarded as F1’s best ever driver.
Sebastian Vettel ranks Lewis Hamilton only behind Michael Schumacher on the list of Formula One greats with his long-time rival on the cusp of securing a sixth world title today.
Mercedes man Hamilton can wrap up his third straight driver’s championship and the sixth of his career at this evening’s United States Grand Prix.
The Brit starts fifth on the grid but because of his 74-point lead over team-mate and Texas pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, can finish eighth and would win the title even if Bottas were to win the race.
The 34-year-old’s latest triumph will move him just one behind the iconic Schumacher, who picked up seven titles in a glittering motorsport career.
Hamilton has been thoroughly dominant in the sport’s current turbo hybrid engine era, amassing four championships in the last five seasons and only missing out in 2016 when he was beaten by intra-team rival Nico Rosberg, who pipped him to the crown by a mere five points.
And Ferrari’s Vettel – who knows himself what it takes to claim such glory having won four on the bounce between 2010 and 2013 – ranks Hamilton only behind Schumacher.
“How can we think differently? For me it is very clear. He absolutely is one of the best,” he said.
“He has been here a long time and is one of the most successful drivers. After Michael, it is right to have his name there.
“Lewis is undoubtedly a great professional who stood out among all the drivers of his generation.”
Hamilton, at 34, is in his 13th season in F1 and is under contract with Mercedes until the end of the 2020 season.
While Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen is still going at the age of 40, Hamilton’s many commitments and passions outside of the sport have led to suggestions he could soon call it a day.
But in a message to his rivals ahead of tonight’s race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, where Hamilton is a six-time winner already, the five-time champion insists he’s not even found his best level yet.
“I don’t think I have hit my peak yet, and that is comforting. I plan to continue to get stronger,” he said.
“I never thought I would have five titles and I am continuing to create dreams that I didn’t think I would ever have.
“If I can get it, a sixth title will be unreal, but I am going to race for more years to come and I want to win every year. Believe me, I will be pushing more than ever in the following seasons.”
The United States Grand Prix gets underway at 7.10pm UK time (1.10pm local time), with Hamilton looking to win his 11th race of the 2019 season.
For me it is very clear. He absolutely is one of the best.