Is Hamilton better than Schumacher?

"Michael did not change Ferrari, I have not changed Mercedes." The Brit equals the Kaiser's record for victories and stands up to his historic legacy.


I called my father and was talking to him. "Lewis Hamilton (England, 35 years old) has his voice cut off, hours after the victory at the Nurburgring, when he refers to who“ sacrificed so much ”so that he is now here "I think I have been able to make him proud." He says it is not just another triumph, that he will need "a few days to digest what has happened." As a child he saw Michael Schumacher "so far", as the legend of the Formula 1 that is. Since he was young, he shared the grid with him. Now he has 91 victories in the motorsport elite, as many as the Kaiser, and goes straight to the seventh World Cup that will equate him with the German. The seventh heaven. To the anti-racist, animalistic and Ecologist emotions escape him when he transcends within his sport, when racing finally returns to occupy the center of his discourse.

In Cologne, a few kilometers northeast of the Eifel circuit, lie replicas of the single-seaters that erected the Schumacher myth. From the first Benetton to the suffered Ferraris of the mid-90s, from the saga of champions to the Mercedes of the final goodbye. Among all the pieces, stands out a humble spoiler signed by all the workers of the team. The most repeated word: "Thank you." From Michael Schumacher, who is 51 years old today and whose health is unknown, the numbers can be highlighted (7 titles, 91 victories, 68 poles, 155 podiums, 307 races) but his legacy must be highlighted: he returned greatness to Ferrari, the team with the longest history on the grid, and broke all records with them to become a planetary idol.

Three-time champion Jackie Stewart's words have resounded in recent weeks: "Lewis is extremely good, but I can't say he's the best of all time." Sebastian Vettel, with four titles, doesn't help either: "Michael will always be my hero." Even Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that Schumacher "is an icon that stands above everything else." The direct comparison between the two giants is already impossible, they will not meet again on the asphalt and when they did, between 2010 and 2012, one faced maturity and the other stretched his career. The rivals can be weighted: the Kaiser raced against Senna and lost against Hakkinen and Alonso, although their titles were won by Damon Hill, Barrichello or Raikkonen. Hamilton reigned in the times of Fernando and Vettel, although his opponents were Massa, Bottas and Nico Rosberg. The German beat him, and that's a mole on his file.

But in Formula 1, the determining factor is the car. It was then the Ferrari and it is today the Mercedes product of the most dominant team of all time. Wolff is angry that this detracts from his driver because, in his opinion, choosing the car also makes a champion: "It is not fair. We have seen many very talented drivers making bad decisions, or being badly advised. And in that sense, it is Lewis who decided to join Mercedes in 2013 and who has executed everything on the track with a tool that we have provided. Drivers who say that will have to wonder why they have not gone to Mercedes. "

For Hamilton (6 titles, 91 victories, 96 poles, 160 podiums, 261 races) there is no such debate: "They say that Michael changed Ferrari. As much as he loves him, if he is a legend, an individual does not change a team. Michael does not Ferrari changed, I have not changed Mercedes. A single driver cannot develop that enormous force of change. Our job is to point in the right direction. My job is to keep pushing and pushing, and hopefully inspiring those who work on the car. " The champion is the last link in a chain that, in the case of Mercedes, is made up of "almost 2,000 people." Even Wolff concedes: "There is not a star on this team, there are 2,000 stars. Lewis acknowledges that without this team there would be no records."

Is Hamilton better than Schumacher? The best of all time? The protagonist answers: "There is a lot of talk, in all sports, about who is the best from the past or the present. It is almost impossible to compare different eras. We evolve. If you put the best drivers in the same car, in the same season, of history, that would be something. But it is not important to me. The important thing is the trip, I am proud of everything I have achieved. I have made many mistakes, but this is how life works. I may be remembered for having more results that nobody and that would already be something special. But as I say, I care about the path, the obstacles that I overcome. I have a lot of respect for the legends of the past, even if they speak negatively about me. They lived very hard times and they are legends. we are unique". "In 20 years I will look at F1 and I will not speak ill of the young driver who is successful and who chases the record that I am able to set," says Hamilton. Perhaps every fan has an answer to that question, or perhaps there is no correct answer. The only certainty is that the Stevenage driver is, for sure, one of the legends of universal sport. Like Schumacher.

Lewis Hamilton has equaled MIchael Schumacher in number of victories, although with differences in the way of achieving them

Michael Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut in the 1991 season and it was not until the following year, at the Belgian GP, that he achieved his first victory. He had to wait 18 grands prix to know the sensation of climbing to the top of the podium (he had previously finished third in the Mexico test in 1992) and from that moment there were another 90 victories until the last he achieved as a Ferrari driver at the 2006 Chinese GP.

The overwhelming Lewis Hamilton, who has now reached that same figure of 91 wins, was much more forceful in his early days. His first grand prix was that of Australia in 2007, although in his case he ended up in F1 with a car as competitive as the McLaren. That circumstance added to his enormous talent allowed him to enjoy the honeys of victory in that World Cup debut, by winning in his sixth participation, the Canadian GP. 13 years have passed since then but life remains the same for Hamilton in that sense, the triumph continues to be credited and with perspectives that make it difficult to imagine the heights it will reach.

Schumacher, who returned to racing with Mercedes after being out of F1 for three seasons after leaving Ferrari, played 307 grands prix and needed 247 to reach 91 victories. Hamilton has participated in 261 races so far, the same he needed to match the German in number of wins. However, in the total count of participations, the percentage of victories of 'Schumi' is 29.6%, somewhat lower than that of the British, which reaches 34.8% .

In both cases, without a doubt, these are impressive figures because they assume that, rounding out, they have won one out of every three races in which they have participated. It is true that with 'El Kaiser' the circumstance that he participated for three years in the beginnings of the now hegemonic Mercedes team must be considered, which between 2010 and 2012 did not enjoy the current competitiveness. In this way, Schumacher did not add a single victory in 57 grand prix with the 'Silver Arrows', being a podium in the GP of Europe of his last year the best result of that stage.

Because discounting those performances, which did not contribute to his winning balance, his percentage of grand prizes contested to reach 91 would be even better than Hamilton's, amounting to 36.8%. What both drivers share is having initially won titles with a team (two the German with Benetton and one the British with McLaren) to later join large teams with dominating single-seaters that allowed them to rise to the category of legend: Schumacher's Ferrari , with its five crowns, and Hamilton's Mercedes, so far capable of giving him five titles ... but with the sixth more than well on track.

For many years Formula 1 was used to having the same protagonist at the top of most of its statistical sections, at least the most important ones. No one was able to even come close to Schumacher, the true king of numbers, and it seemed that no one would ever succeed. But that was until Hamilton and Mercedes became the perfect combination that has dominated the hybrid era since its inception in 2014 (with few exceptions such as the title that Rosberg took from him in 2016) and that has been bringing the British closer to the heights more high.

Thus, to the point that at the Nurburgring, Lewis equaled one of the numbers once considered unattainable, Michael's 91 victories. Quite a milestone that the English champion is on his way to leave behind on his 'silver arrow' with six races ahead. Too many for it not to be so. That is the main record that Hamilton can beat this year, but there are also two others to which he can tie the tie: the 72 victories of 'El Kaiser' in the same team, Ferrari of course (Lewis has 70 in Mercedes) and the 30 podiums at different Raikkonen circuits (they are even) .

To his credit in this atypical 2020, Stevenage's has already added a few more records to the many he already has in his pocket (he has long since left behind the 68 poles of 'Schumi' and already has 96). For example, he started the season behind Michael's 155 podiums, but in Barcelona he passed on the left and has reached 160 so far. And without getting off the 'drawer', there is another section in which he is also first, the one with the most podiums in different great prizes, in which he surpassed the 26 of Kimi and goes for 28th after the one he achieved in the GP of Tuscany .

Hamilton is used to winning wherever he goes, but not before setting a precedent at home, because he is the driver who has achieved the most victories and poles before his fans, seven of each to overcome Prost in France in the first and Senna in Brazil in the second. He left both behind on the same weekend, the British GP. And continuing with the poles, he is also the one that has achieved the most in consecutive years: 14 for Schumacher's 13. These are some data of the new record man in F1 and ahead of him is the most ambitious in history, the seven titles of the German seven-time champion. Let him make room.

Valencia, 2007. The McLaren team presented its MP4 / 22 with an unprecedented pair of drivers: the current world champion in that season, Fernando Alonso, and a young promise who had marveled at GP2, Lewis Hamilton. The City of Arts and Sciences decorated itself for what was promised as the season of Alonso's third title in the car that Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost once drove. Both drivers delighted the public with a display in the streets of the Turia city under the watchful eye of Ron Dennis, the great boss of the team. "I do not understand how Fernando goes so fast at night through these streets," said Hamilton after falling behind the Asturian for an acceleration with his McLaren. It was the first warning of the storm to come.

Already in his first race in Formula 1, Hamilton showed that he was not going to be the typical rookie, crossing the finish line third, just behind Alonso. In Malaysia, Bahrain and Montmeló, the Englishman was second, being the only rookie in history to not get off the podium in his first four races and grabbing the World Championship lead. The fight inside the team's box was beginning to be fierce and the following episode was experienced in Monaco.

Alonso was first, Hamilton second, the two-time champion had a problem with the brakes, he began to loosen up and the Englishman cut the distance savagely, placing himself less than a second, but the race ended like that. Hamilton and his father declared to the press in their country that McLaren had prevented them from overtaking Alonso and, as Pedro de la Rosa has recognized on more than one occasion, the team's board of directors accused Alonso of “being slower than the boy. ”

He would not have to wait much longer to uncork the champagne at the top of the podium, because it was at the next grand prix, that of Canada, that Hamilton achieved the first of his 91 victories in Formula 1 today. The Briton had a weekend masterful, taking pole on Saturday and winning with authority on Sunday. The pronounced braking at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit has always suited Hamilton like a glove, and there he has a whopping seven wins.

That race tipped the balance on his side at McLaren. Lewis qualified ahead of Alonso, who at the start made a mistake inappropriate for him by going off the track. A penalty after a safety car and tire problems relegated him to seventh. Dennis had his man in Hamilton and Alonso was beginning to be more outside than within the Woking team.

Hungary's classification ended up definitively exploiting the situation. Hamilton did not let the extra lap that Alonso had to roll due to the team's internal code after setting the best time. Alonso took justice into his own hands and at the tire change he was stopped on purpose so that Hamilton did not have time to do one more lap. And so it happened, the Asturian took pole and Hamilton could not make another attempt. For the memory is the grip of Dennis to the physio of Alonso asking for explanations and the subsequent statements of the Spanish assuring that the only thing that happened to Dennis is that "I had done first, that hard". Alonso was sanctioned by the FIA with five positions and marked the beginning of the end of his relationship with McLaren.

Then came the 'Spygate', the McLaren spying on Ferrari that ended with a historic sanction for the Woking team: exclusion from the constructors' championship and a fine of 100 million euros. The investigation made public emails between Alonso and De la Rosa, fueling the team's suspicions of them. Dennis focused on his protégé and put all the means to win the championship, but the internal struggle within McLaren handed the World Cup to Ferrari and the story ended with Alonso heading to Renault and with Hamilton runner-up. But the best was yet to come for the talented British rider…

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