Lewis Hamilton compared Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championship titles with the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, which means that the two Formula 1 drivers have equal rights in the record books.
The dispute over who is the greatest rider (or goat) of all is completely subjective and has no satisfactory answer, but at a time when so many statistics of two riders agree, it seemed time to answer the question, just like all the others.
So let’s start with these narcotic statisticians before we move on to the most controversial and controversial categories of size……
Although not inferior in terms of titles, Hamilton now leads the Schumacher team in two great records for speed and success in F1: pole position and victory.
There are certain categories where Schumacher is still in the lead – the fastest laps, most victories in the season, consecutive victories – but the absolute record in two of these three categories has been achieved or beaten by Sebastian Vettel. Schumacher’s second career as a Mercedes driver, from 2010 to 2012, distorts his percentage statistics, as he only reached the podium once during this period, compared to the 154 places he took from 1994 to 2006.
Of course Hamilton is still active in Formula 1, so his interest rate statistics have been omitted anyway, but there is certainly money on him to strengthen those figures and build up his advantage over Schumacher until he retires.
Hamilton 7 – 7 Schumacher
Hamilton 94 – 91 Schumacher.
Hamilton 264 – 306 Schumacher
Hamilton 97 – 68 Schummacher
Hamilton 227 – 221 Schumacher
Hamilton 163 – 155 Schumacher
Hamilton 53 – 77 Schumacher
Hamilton 5 – 41 Schumacher Races
Race for first win
Hamilton 6 – 18 Schumacher
Most victories in
Hamilton 11 – 13 Schumacher
Hamilton 5 – 7 Schumacher
Hamilton 16 – 19 Schumacher
Interestingly, it is probably just a coincidence that despite two very different F1 careers, they both won their seventh title at the age of 35. If we limit their careers to this age, the percentage of winners will be very low in favour of Schumacher and not Hamilton.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Michael Schumacher won his seventh title in 2004 at the age of 35. High Two/Corbis on Getty Images
Age first place
Hamilton 23 – 25 Schumacher
Second place Age
Hamilton 29 – 26 Schumacher
Age at third title
Hamilton 30 – 31 Schumacher
Age at fourth title
Hamilton 32 – 32 Schumacher
Age at fifth title
Hamilton 33 – 33 Schumacher
Age of Sixth Title
Hamilton 34 – 34 Schumacher
Age in 7th position
Hamilton 35 – 35 Schumacher
You can talk to any rider with the statistics, but given the fact that Hamilton now holds the race win record and is likely to expand the championship record in the coming years, it will probably be increasingly difficult to add up the numbers in Schumacher’s favour.
It will always be a controversial subject from which the most difficult conclusions can be drawn. Statistically, Hamilton has a pole position record and Schumacher has a fast lap record, although both figures are easily questioned because of their insignificance.
Pole positions mean nothing in terms of points, so to win you can sacrifice speed in a single lap (especially as drivers had to qualify for part of Schumacher’s career on racing fuel). If you also have the fastest car on the grid, most of the work is done, and maybe Schumacher has more relatively slow cars in his career than Hamilton.
As for the fastest laps, these have only been running since the beginning of last year, so the fastest lap is not important for most careers of both drivers (apart from bragging). It is also often the case that the fastest lap is taken by a driver on new tyres and with low fuel consumption at the right time of the race, which is often more a byproduct of a particular strategy than a real indicator of the driver’s race pace.
Far from the statistics, both drivers were advertised for the way they checked the car up to the border, but the question then arose whether Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senne, as well as Schumacher and Hamilton, would have left them on the road if there had been fresh, low-calorie miles on the same cars. That’s a question we’ll never be able to answer.
However, a recent study by F1 partner AWS attempted to address this situation by creating a complex matrix of comparisons between team members. Senna reached the top and in an imaginary lap he was 0.114 seconds ahead of Schumacher, who was again 0.161 seconds faster than Hamilton. However, the study was somewhat discredited by a questionable methodology and the fact that Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli suddenly appeared in the top ten.
The comparison between Hamilton and Schumacher is made even more complicated by the two eras in which the racing drivers competed against each other. Many of the stories about Schumacher’s heroine come from Benetton’s cabin in the early 1990s, which was a very different beast than today’s air-sensitive and much heavier cars.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Michael Schumacher won the first two championships against Benetton. Harry Melchert/Photo Alliance through Getty Pictures.
But if the search for differences turns out to be useless, the search for similarities can at least give us an idea of the reasons for the success of the two riders. Andrew Schowlin, head of Racetrack Technology at Mercedes, has worked with both drivers (Schumacher 2010-2012 and Hamilton 2013 to date) and believes that the two have very similar characteristics.
The two characters could no longer be different, but if you look at the way they drive, there are similarities, he said earlier this year. When Michael joined our team, his specialty was the way he always hunted for small victories and no matter how small it was 0.01, he tried to get it and he got it back.
Michael also knew how to drive a car the fastest. If it had been a car with insufficient maneuverability, he would have done it. If he had to move the work to the front tires, he could do that. It was therefore very suitable for his driving style.
Those are the two characteristics Lewis possesses. A lot of good riders don’t have a certain style, it’s just something they have to adapt to, they will.
No matter how many things you say to Michael on your lap, he’ll do them. Whether it was about moving the brakes to save the tires or doing something else to put them in the right window, he did it.
Again, that’s a characteristic of Lewis; you can keep putting something on it and he won’t forget, and then you can give him more to do and he’ll just put it on.
So, the way they’re in the car, they look more alike than you think. It’s just that two totally different people got out of the car.
But net speed is almost self-evident for drivers in a Formula 1 debate over the mouth, and other attributes can make the balance in favour of one driver outweigh the other.
Stop: Too close to call
Due to the characteristics of both riders in the media, this category easily goes to Schumacher. But digging a little deeper into their careers is a lot closer to the fight than you’d think.
The story of Schumacher is well known: He played a key role in the rebuilding of Ferrari between 1996 and 2000, involving technicians such as Ross Brown and Rory Birn or Benetton, while contributing to the winning atmosphere that ultimately led to the dominance of the sport. It is wrong to think that all this is the work of Schumacher – it is a team effort led by team manager Jean Todt – but the successes of Schumacher and Ferrari at that time are inextricably linked.
Schumacher’s work ethic in Maranello remains legendary. The story goes that on Tuesday he told the engineers about the new part and on Wednesday he was in the car to test it. And it is his desire to improve through tests that sets him apart from all the other riders of his time.
In his most successful period, from 2000 to 2006, Schumacher drove 89,533 test kilometres with the Ferrari, equivalent to a double lap around the world. He has spread these kilometres over a total of 279 testing days, which means that in seven years he has endured a total of nine months of tough testing, with race weekends in the lead!
Fault! The file name is not specified. Michael Schumacher is widely known as the driving force behind Ferrari in the early 2000s. DAMIEN MEYER/AFP about Getty Images
Hamilton, on the other hand, joined the Mercedes in 2013, at a time when most elements of dominance were already present. McLaren’s move from McLaren to Mercedes at the end of 2012 was undoubtedly a major turning point in his career, but as they say, he is not directly responsible for the swords that have led to the dominance of the team from 2014.
But that argument proves Hamilton’s role since 2013 and the amount of work needed to keep the Mercedes at the top for the next seven seasons is a huge service. Hamilton may have gotten rid of the idea of testing out of season (and the rules have severely limited the time on the track since Schumacher), but it’s wrong to assume he’ll take his time as soon as he leaves the track.
Lewis’ rivals may think he’s just fast in the car, but he’s not wasting any time. In fact, he’s one of the hardest working guys we’ve ever known, Schowlin says. The more he understands the tyres, the operation of the car and the use of all available aids, the more he is able to accept this information and integrate it into his driving style.
He still sees every missed opportunity as a problem that needs to be solved before the next race, and he works with Bono [his racing engineer Peter Bonnington], Markus [Dudley, Hamilton’s executive engineer] and a larger team of engineers to solve any problems.
It’s just that he’s constantly improving his skills, and he’s been so long in his career that you’d think the driver would exceed his capabilities, but Lewis is always looking for new and different things to get the best out of the car and the tires.
As a result, this category is much closer than it may seem at first glance, but Schumacher’s dedication and sacrifice over the years at Ferrari means that he limits it.
Racetrack and Race Strategy
Fault! The file name is not specified. Lewis Hamilton received the racing helmet from Michael Schumacher after his German victory in the 91st race. Formula 1 races in the Eiffel Grand Prix. BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
The ability of both drivers to adopt a racing strategy and successfully implement it on the track is the key to their success. But the driving style demanded in Schumacher’s time is almost completely at odds with today’s Hamilton.
Schumacher became famous for his ability to work with strategy after completing a series of qualifying rounds to make the difference at the crucial moment between pit stops. Such bends were often the key to success in the days of his Ferrari and were driven by Brown on the stand wall.
On the contrary, Hamilton’s latest success lies in its innate ability to drive tyres and adapt its driving speed to the conditions to make the rubber last. In this year’s race we saw Hamilton dictate his strategy from the cockpit and sometimes drive on the pit wall, depending on how he felt in every corner of his car.
Schumacher never really understood the era of Pirelli’s Formula 1 driving and was much more successful with Bridgestone tyres, which were specially designed for his Ferrari and could be pushed 24 hours a day on a limited lap. Both types of driving require exceptional skills, and Schumacher and Hamilton are probably the best of their generation in this style. But given these differences in racial management, a direct comparison seems unfair.
Stop: Invalid equation
The performance of Schumachers and Hamilton have always faced the argument that they only win because they have the best car. If you leave on one side as a counterargument that they are in a better car for some reason (or that they helped develop a better car), you can also say that you can only beat the teams and drivers you are racing against. That is why their size is partly determined by the rivalry they had.
Schumacher won the World Cars Championship title against a small opposition, but the career of his greatest rival ended tragically in 1994. If Senna had not died in the Grand Prix of San Marino in 1994, there is a strong argument for him to beat Schumacher for the title of the year, in which Schumacher finally won by a point on Williams teammate Damon Hill against his teammate Senna.
After winning his first title in 1994 Schumacher dedicated his victory to Senna: I always knew I wouldn’t win the championship and Ayrton would win it, but he wasn’t in the last race and I wanted to take that championship and give it to him. He deserved it because he had the best car and he was the best driver. Those are my feelings for him.
This is not to minimize Schumacher’s performance against later rivals such as Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso, but the extent to which Senna would have dominated in the 1990s if he had survived Imola in 1994 remains one of the most tragic and convincing performances of Formula One.
Hamilton’s era of success partly coincides with the Schumacher era for rivals like Alonso, but he could have had a stronger rivalry with Kimi Raikkonen (2007), Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen. In addition, he has won races in every season of his career, although he had some poor quality cars in 2009 and 2013.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Lewis Hamilton’s incredible season as a rookie was marked by his transition from one to the other with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. Manufacturer of the AP photo/brand
But it is the direct comparison with his teammates that gives Hamilton an advantage over Schumacher in this category. Schumacher was world champion in the team only once – in 1991, in six races with Nelson Picke at Benetton, while Hamilton met Alonso, Jenson Button and Rosberg.
It is true that he was tied up on points with Alonso in 2007, but he was a rookie and Alonso was the double reigning world champion (plus Hamilton, who won the battle technically with the countdown to individual results). Button beat him in the standings of 2011, but Hamilton took first place in 2010 and 2012. In the close battle for the title, Rosberg defeated him in 2016, but Hamilton ended all other seasons they had as teammates and two of them with the title.
The fact that Schumacher took first place with Ferrari and that Eddie Irwin, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa all signed contracts with the number two driver is decisive for this comparison. During his time in F1, Hamilton never applied for the number one status and only got it when the championship was in play and his teammate was already out of the running.
In F1 it is very important to have a winner’s mentality, but there is a difference between a winner’s mentality and a winner’s mentality in harness.
Schumacher’s career in Formula 1 will be overshadowed forever by the events of the Australian Grand Prix in 1994, the European Grand Prix in 1997 and qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006. In any case, he showed the will to win that reached (or exceeded) the limit, and in two out of three cases his actions were sanctioned by the FIA.
His encounter with Hill in the last race of the 1994 season cemented his first title moments after it seemed to slip through his fingers after an error and a collision with a wall. Despite not being punished for that, the collision seems to have hit him hard when Hill tried to catch up and the damage to Hill Williams didn’t earn him any points, which earned Schumacher the title.
A similar action by Jacques Villeneuve in the last race of the 1997 season did not bear fruit and led to the exclusion of Schumacher from the championship after an FIA investigation. Both incidents could be attributed to his relatively young age (he was 28 in 1997), but the incident in Monaco, where he deliberately crashed into the Rascasse curve to prevent drivers from winning the qualifying round from behind, took place at the age of 37, when he had already been world champion seven times.
Such incidents have earned Schumacher a reputation of ruthlessness and continue to fuel controversy among Formula 1 fans to this day. However, it should be noted that those who have worked with Schumacher tell a different story about his true character, away from the beaten track.
He is a rather incomprehensible character, Brown told Sky Sports in the documentaries Race to perfection. I don’t know if he liked the impression he made in his own imagination, because in many ways he was a pretty formidable character.
But if you knew him personally, he was just the opposite, very fascinating, very personal. So many times I introduced him to people who, before they met him, thought he was vile and horrible, and you introduced them, and as soon as they met him, they changed completely.
It happened so many times because there was Michael, the runner, and Michael, the guy who was off the track. I don’t know anyone who’s worked with Michael who’s ever said anything bad about him. Many of the people who stalked him had a different opinion, but none of the people I know who worked with Michael had a low opinion of him because of his integrity, dedication, and humanity.
He was a very strong member of every team he was part of, and it’s a tragedy what happened, but he’s a great man.
Hamilton was often on the wrong side of the decisions of the FIA commissioners, but this was usually due to honest mistakes.
The most dubious moment for him came in 2009, when he was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix for misleading the stewards by examining the reasons for overtaking Trully under the yellow flags. It later emerged that his testimony before the Commissioners was commissioned by McLaren’s Athletic Director, Dave Ryan, and at the age of 24 it was probably clear that he had given his consent.
But Hamilton has grown a lot since then. At last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix he was blamed immediately after the collision with Alex Albon, and the race officials decided to take him off the podium immediately.
Hamilton’s high level of self-confidence means he’s only challenged a direct fight with his teammate in cars of equal value, which makes his performance even more impressive.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Clive Mason/Getty Images
This is probably the most important category in terms of size, but also the most difficult to judge (especially since Hamilton has not yet completed his career).
It is also incredibly subjective, with no numerical yardsticks and no solid arguments for any driver – and the argument that the prerequisite for such an equation is empty in itself. But you can see what the two drivers have achieved and how they have influenced the world outside Formula 1.
Throughout his career, Mr. Schumacher has raised the bar for professionalism in Formula 1. As you travel the world, you’ll see replicas of Schumacher’s helmets on motorcyclists in the big cities, while his name remains synonymous with sport in every corner of the world. When Formula 1 was at its peak in terms of audience and relevance, Schumacher was his most famous figure, and his story continues to inspire millions today.
Most of his charitable activities were private, but examples of his generosity sometimes made the headlines, such as his donation of $10 million to the victims of the Asian tsunami in 2005. In an era before social networks, he protected his privacy from the media, but his performance on the circuit was still enough to earn him the distinction of one of the greatest sports icons of all time.
Since Schumacher suffered a serious head injury in a skiing accident in 2013, his family has been protecting his privacy, but the Keep Fighting Foundation founded in his name is still working on projects in the fields of culture, education, science and public health.
Compared to Schumacher, Hamilton’s private life during his period in Formula 1 was an open book. The traditional media have amassed and destroyed it several times, but the cast character is one of the strongest and most relevant in the history of the sport.
Through social media he tried to tell his story and increasingly adapted his messages to inspire others instead of promoting himself. This year, he used his platform to fight racial injustice, promote greater diversity in motor sport and raise awareness of the dangers of climate change – three issues he raised in his sport.
His voice is one of the few in the room that goes beyond the Formula 1 bubble, and he continues to use it to spread a positive message around the world.
Stop: Cannot compare
So, uh… who’s Goat?
It is unlikely that the above arguments would have changed anything before you opened this article.
Schumacher fans will never be convinced that Hamilton is bigger, while Hamilton fans will never accept Schumacher as an unmistakable BRICK. There are also many other drivers in the history of Formula 1 who should be included in the debate and who have only received a superficial mention (or no mention at all) in this article.
But if you’re still undecided, take another look at the categories and decide which one you like most about F1 drivers. That should give you the answer…