Hamilton merits equalling Schumi

Lewis Hamilton deserves to equal Michael Schumacher's record seven world titles this year, says Formula One sporting director Ross Brawn.PHOTO: REUTERS
Lewis Hamilton deserves to equal Michael Schumacher's record seven world titles this year, says Formula One sporting director Ross Brawn.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Ross Brawn believes Lewis Hamilton would deserve to equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles should the British driver take the championship this season.

Formula One's sporting director considers both drivers to be exceptional but that their skills differ because the sport has changed since the German's era.

Hamilton approaches the new season as the strong favourite given stable regulations and Mercedes' imperious form last year.

Brawn has worked closely with both drivers. He was the technical director at Benetton when Schumacher won his first two titles and then at Ferrari, where the German secured five more between 2000 and 2004. He became principal of Mercedes in 2010, persuading Hamilton to join the team, and worked alongside him in 2013 before retiring a year later.

"They are both massively talented in what they do in the car and those moments where they pull something out of nowhere," he said. "Some of the qualifying laps Lewis has done have left the team speechless. Michael was the same, there are sometimes just those drivers who can do that."

Brawn joined F1 management as sporting director in 2017, since then Hamilton has taken the title every year, an achievement Brawn considers every bit as impressive as Schumacher's.

"Lewis has deserved it, he has deserved every championship he has won," he said. "He has got himself at the right team at the right time and he is at peak performance. He doesn't make mistakes and is a fantastic driver, his performance is exceptional."

Brawn enjoyed a close relationship with Schumacher, who cited him as the main reason he came out of retirement to join Mercedes in 2010. The 51-year-old remains in recovery after suffering a brain injury while skiing in 2013.

Brawn recognises that Hamilton has earned his place in the record books on merit.

"It is not like Lewis is winning out of luck," he said. "He is winning because he is doing a fantastic job and you have to give him credit."

This will be Hamilton's 14th season in F1 but he remains motivated and the new season, which starts in Melbourne on March 15, looms large. But Brawn feels it is difficult to make direct comparisons between Hamilton and Schumacher.

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    Seasons in Formula One Lewis Hamilton has taken to win his six drivers' championship titles. Michael Schumacher won his record seven championships over 19 seasons.

"They were different cars, different eras, different competition," he said. "Lewis is incredibly professional, dedicated and committed but Michael had an intensity of detail towards the car that Lewis doesn't need.

"Michael came up in an era where there wasn't the technology there is now. Data analysis was pretty crude. Now a driver gets out of the car and the engineer has an analysis of the car's behaviour through every corner.

"When I first worked with Michael we had a sheet with the corner numbers on and he had to explain where he had understeer or oversteer and we would then analyse that."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2020, with the headline 'Hamilton merits equalling Schumi'. Print Edition | Subscribe