Hamilton: Young drivers won't understand role Schumacher & I had in F1 success

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Lewis Hamilton cited himself in suggesting young drivers won't understand the role he and Michael Schumacher had in creating their Formula 1 success.

Over the past six weeks, the Mercedes driver has confirmed himself as the statistical G.O.A.T by surpassing the German legend's record for most F1 wins and then tieing him as a seven-time world champion 10 days ago at the Turkish Grand Prix.

However, while both Hamilton and Schumacher can attribute their remarkable careers to having dominant cars for a sustained period, the Briton explained why it wasn't a case of them both just stepping in and driving. 

“In terms of helping develop the car, that’s something that I think that drivers and, as I’m approaching where Michael was, I never fully understood,” he told Motorsport.com.

“It’s difficult for someone starting in F1, for young drivers, it’s hard for them to fully understand what it is that Michael did, what I am doing in this team.

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“They’ll just see that we have a good car, that Michael had a good car, but now I’m here I understand what Michael did with the team, or perhaps what he might have done with this team. I’m sure it’s similar to what I’ve had to do.

“You know, you have to be the rudder. You have this powerful group of intelligent, impassioned people and of course, you have the head of the team, which is the main rudder.

“But in terms of development, how to get the car to go further and work with the characteristics of the driver, that’s my job and I’d say I’m definitely very, very proud of that. Unfortunately people don’t get to see all that in the background.”

Hamilton then revealed how he had to evolve himself into that role as a "rudder" for Mercedes.

“It’s not easy. With great difficulty," he told Formula1.com. “People may think it looks easy, but I tell you it’s far from it. It’s taken a long time to be as good as I am.

“I think I’ve always had the talent. I’ve probably always had the tools, but I’ve been messing around in the toolbox not knowing what to do with those tools.

"But in recent years I’ve been fine-tuning them and I think it’s just focusing on things.


“Every year, I write down where I’m not great because there are plenty of places I’m not great, and then ask ‘so how do we do that?’

“I’m not great at communicating sometimes, so how can I do that better with Bono [race engineer Pete Bonnington] and the guys? How can I be more positive every time I come to work and be more uplifting rather than drag on people? In the car, how can I better understand all the buttons?

“It’s a lot of studying. I’ve done more this year than I would have done last year [because of Covid]. I never understood that when I was younger, I’d just arrive and drive.

“The amount of homework I do in the background is probably the reason you see the results I get today.”

Currently, Hamilton is yet to re-sign with Mercedes beyond 2020 and there has been speculation over the terms of a new deal, in particular his salary.

However, while the 35-year-old may earn quite a bit more than the rest, as Schumacher did, Felipe Massa believes he deserves that recognition.

“[Lewis] is just unbelievable,” the former Ferrari and Williams driver told the F1 Nation podcast. “He can really be the best of the best and everybody will say that for years and years, and maybe decades.

"So I think Lewis is just preparing… a two, three-year contract, which I think he deserves, to be honest. What he’s doing, it shows that he definitely deserves to be different to all of the other drivers, in terms of everything – even in terms of salary.

“I remember when Michael was my teammate, he was like [Hamilton]. Michael was completely different than anybody in terms of everything; in terms of records, in terms of numbers – and in terms of salary.

“For sure, Michael also helped many other drivers to increase their salary, so that’s what in my view Lewis is trying to do, and I think he’s doing right and he deserves it because he’s showing that whatever happens, he’s different than the others for the moment.

“I remember so well when Michael was my teammate and he had 91 victories, for me, it was like impossible another driver would be able to beat him… and [now] Lewis will beat all of them.

"He already beat all of the records, so he’s just missing the Championships to beat Michael, but I think he can do it, and he deserves it because what he’s showing in his career is just amazing.”