Over the years, there have been several debates over who the greatest Formula One driver of all time is. There are several legendary drivers in the sport, the likes of Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen to name a few. However, when it comes to who the best of the lot is, the conversation usually boils down to Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher. Both have won seven world titles, with the Brit hopeful on his eighth this season. As per former world champion Nico Rosberg, if one goes by pure talent, Hamilton is ahead of Schumacher.
Statistically, Hamilton and Schumacher are the most successful Formula One drivers of all time, with both holding seven World Championships. Hamilton, however, holds several major records, including the most race wins, pole positions, and podium finishes.
Naturally, Hamilton and Schumacher are frequently compared, and Rosberg believes Hamilton has the talent edge, believing the Briton is the most naturally gifted F1 racer of all time.
Rosberg has the distinction of referring to both drivers as Mercedes teammates, having raced alongside Schumacher at Mercedes from 2010 to 2012, before Hamilton took over for the legendary German in 2013. Rosberg and Hamilton would then engage in one of Formula One’s most heated rivalries, which ended when Rosberg retired shortly after winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2016.
“Lewis is just an extreme natural talent, in terms of talent, he must probably be the best ever,” Rosberg told Sky Sports, as quoted by Motorsport-Total.com. “And he really builds on that, that instinct is phenomenal with him.”
Rosberg, on the other hand, gives the nod to Schumacher for ‘diligence’ and ‘passion,’ explaining that Schumacher took advantage of every opportunity to be in the car and learn, whereas Hamilton despises testing.
“A big difference is diligence. Lewis hates testing. And Michael, who would do tests every day, even though he is a seven-time World Champion, but he also knows that you can still learn a little bit,” Rosberg explained. “It’s just diligence, passion.”
As Rosberg recalls, Schumacher became known as one of Formula One’s fiercest competitors psychologically as well, recalling the time Schumacher locked himself in the toilet 10 minutes before qualifying in Monaco, disrupting Rosberg’s preparations.
“In Monaco, there was only one toilet in the garage. And Michael then goes in ten minutes before, locks himself in. He knows that before we get into the car, we have to go to the toilet again before qualifying,” said Rosberg.
“He then closed the door. I’m outside knocking and knocking. No one answers, full of panic. So I finally had to do it somewhere in the corner. Sorry for the details. Lewis can do that too, but he’s not like focusing on it all day,” the German added.
According to Rosberg, Hamilton excels at strategically using the media to his advantage. “What he does very well is the whole politics, with the media. He acts very, very cleverly. And even on the track, when you go into the grey areas, it’s somehow never really his fault. It’s always the opponent’s fault,” the former Mercedes driver said.
Hamilton is battling Max Verstappen for the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, and if he wins, he will become the only driver in Formula One history to have won eight World Championships. If Rosberg succeeds, it will be a well-deserved achievement for the British driver, and it will also reflect well on him, as he is the only driver to have beaten Hamilton to a title since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014.
“I’m not so emotionally connected now that I say, hey, Michael deserves to hold the record,” Rosberg said. “I then see more and more, okay, he was really fast, and I can be all the more proud that I beat him back then with the same car.”