(Motorsport-Total.com) – Even if Lewis Hamilton can break or equalize Michael Schumacher’s greatest records – 91 Grand Prix victories and seven world titles – in this 2020 Formula 1 season, racing legend Jackie Stewart is not willing to count the British among the greats in sport.
“In my eyes, Juan Manuel Fangio is the greatest driver who has ever lived,” says Stewart in the podcast ‘In The Fast Lane’, “with Jim Clark as the second greatest driver, ahead of (Ayrton) Senna (editor’s note). ). These people sometimes only drove six to eight or nine races a year in Formula 1. They drove sports cars, GT cars and so on. “
Hamilton, on the other hand, only competes in a single category, his successes being boosted by longer seasons: “In the World Championship, Lewis Hamilton or one of the other title contenders is now driving 22 races – only in Formula 1. Not in touring cars, not in GT cars, not in IndyCars, not in Can-Am cars … “
“Almost unfair to the rest of the field”
The pressure that comes with it is much looser these days, says Stewart. In addition, Hamilton enjoys an “almost unfair” advantage due to Mercedes’ dominance in recent seasons. “Lewis drives extremely well, makes no mistakes. I’m not compromising his skills in any way. But it’s not the same,” said Stewart.
Again he draws the comparison to Fangio: “He drove in a way, it was very special – he would choose Ferrari and then he would think, well, Maserati next year could be good. So he never has more than one year contract And then he drove for Mercedes-Benz and won two world championships with them because they had the best cars in the world at that time. “
Hamilton, in turn, made “a very good decision” to leave McLaren and join Mercedes. “I take my hat off to him for making that decision,” says Stewart. But to be honest, the car and engine are so superior now that it’s almost unfair to the rest of the field. “
Stewart thinks: Hamilton “not as good as Fangio”
“You have to take your hat off to Mercedes-Benz, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda because they put together a damn good team, because they picked the best engineers and got the best money that most of the other teams – apart from Red Bull – couldn’t get, “explains the three-time champion.
But this also goes hand in hand with the fact that it is “not quite the same respect” that one shows when a driver can do it with less than the best car. “And that’s exactly where there was sometimes a difference between the very, very great drivers and those who were very successful.”
Therefore, from his point of view, Hamilton is “not as good as Fangio,” says Stewart – and knows that not everyone agrees. “A lot of people would find it wrong. But I’ve been watching car racing since I was a little boy. My brother was a racing driver, I raced him and saw Ascari and Nuvolari and Caracciola and people like that. I saw some of the best racing drivers in the world World.”
Real top drivers are difficult to identify
“To say that Lewis is the greatest of all time would be difficult for me to justify,” says the 81-year-old, “if only because of the charisma of what the other drivers were doing.” In any case, he finds it difficult to identify the really great drivers of our time given the modern nature of Formula 1.
“I think I was lucky to race in my time slot,” said Stewart. “We had Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt, my team-mate Francois Cevert and a few others who we really count among the best racing drivers. Chris Amon, Jack Brabham. They were top racing drivers, really top.”
“Today it is no longer the case that these people can be identified at the top of our profession,” says the Briton, adding: “The great thing about my age was the Ford Cosworth. Everyone had a Ford Cosworth, except Ferrari. There were the same Competitive conditions that simply no longer exist today. “