Multiple world champion Lewis Hamilton, who sealed his 3rd last month, finished the recently-concluded Mexican Grand Prix in 2nd – and made some very controversial statements about F1’s GOAT, Michael Schumacher.
“I’ve never done the things Michael has done to win a championship,” Hamilton told the interviewer. “I’ve won through just.. natural ability.”
The statement attracted the ire of Formula 1 and Schumacher fans around the world, with several of them taking to social media to dismiss the Briton, avering that the German had won his championships through talent and not a “superior car,” as several believe Hamilton has – a factor they say has been a major contributor to at least one of his world championships.
In his prime, Schumacher was widely known as an aggressive driver who used racing tactics to win, a fact not even fans of the legend will deny. The video, however, shows Hamilton appearing to insinuate that Schumacher’s wins were predicated on underhanded tactics.
Hamilton, who has raced 165 Grands Prix since his 2007 debut, has had 43 wins in all, whilst Schumacher, in 308 Grands Prix over 17 years, amassed a staggering 91 wins in addition to setting multiple F1 records that have yet to be broken.
Hamilton and Schumacher have interacted closely – the Briton made his debut with McLaren-Mercedes in 2007 whilst Schumacher was still in his first retirement, but 3 years later, Schumacher, readying to return to Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa, would join Mercedes in 2010.
Massa had been seriously injured at the Hungaroring in 2009, suffering a skull fracture which left his life in the balance in the immediate aftermath, and his future in motorsport uncertain.
Eventually convinced by iconic F1 principal Ross Brawn to come on board with Mercedes, Schumacher moved to the German team in 2010 to partner Nico Rosberg, with the pair competing against the McLaren driver.
It was a spot Hamilton would go on to occupy from the 2013 season, just prior to which Schumacher had decided to take his final retirement. He now partners Rosberg, with serious contentions between the pair.
Several Formula One drivers on the current grid regard Schumacher as their idol – most notably among them four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was mentored by the icon.
Hamilton has now provided an explanation for his statement, posting to social media and avowing he was a “big fan and admirer of Michael”, and that he “would never wish to disrespect him.”
To all the Michael Schumacher fans, I want you to know how big a fan and admirer of Michaels I am. I grew up watching him from the early days through to his 7th title. He was and is the greatest of our time and I am hugely proud and grateful to have met him and spent even the littlest time with. He was always kind to me. One day at his last race, I managed to find the courage to go see him and ask if he would honour me by swapping helmets in which he so graciously did. Please do not believe all that you read. I would never wish to disrespect him nor his family and I hold them in the highest regard. I keep him in my prayers as a fellow driver wishing for his recovery. Best wishes to you. Lewis #Legend #respect #godbless
The Briton's car is one of the many to carry messages of support for Schumacher, who is said to have limited motor capabilities since a tragic skiing accident in December 2013 left him comatose for a significant period.
After being brought out of the medically-induced coma, Schumacher, who is now conscious, has been under round-the-clock medical care at the Schumacher family home in Switzerland as he undergoes intensive rehabilitation.
FIA president Jean Todt, who was team principal at Scuderia Ferrari when Schumacher had his most successful years in F1, recently visited the ace at his home, and said he was “still fighting.”