In case you didn’t know – check the Guardian website – in winning the 2020 Formula One World Championship, Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s seemingly impossible achievement in winning seven titles.
However, Ross Brawn, who guided the German to all his victories and titles believes Hamilton is the sport’s new benchmark.
Ranking the drivers at season end for the sport’s official website, Brawn had no hesitation in putting Hamilton top of his list.
“It has to be Lewis,” he tells the F1 Nation podcast, “and I say has to be in the sense that he has set a new benchmark in terms of world championships.
“I think it’s very easy for people to assume that he had the best car,” he continued. “It’s an easy exercise and it’s far from the case. He definitely won races he shouldn’t have won.”
Brawn cites Istanbul, where Hamilton, who started from the third row and went on to win, as the Mercedes driver’s stand-out performance.
“We think of Turkey, probably the most difficult race of the year, and he sat there quietly getting on with it until the opportunity came and there he was in the pound seat and he won the race.
“He just endorsed what we already knew, that he is a truly exceptional driver. Definitely in the higher echelons of the Schumacher’s and the Senna’s, he’s in that group, there’s no doubt about it.”
As for Max Verstappen, who Brawn ranks next after Hamilton, the F1 MD, who previously oversaw the technical departments at Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes and won the 2009 titles with his own eponymous team, believes the Dutchman was unlucky this year.
“I thought Max matured very well this year,” he said. “If we think back to the Max of a couple of years ago…
“He was pretty unlucky this year, I have to say,” he added. “There were a couple of times the car didn’t quite perform and he got caught up in accidents that were not his fault and we were deprived of seeing some great races from him.”
“We’ve got a really great run of drivers,” he concludes, “and I think we were all massively excited by George Russell getting in the Mercedes. That was a fairy-tale story that didn’t quite happen but I don’t think we will forget that.
“We’ve had some great stories this year and I’m optimistic with the group of drivers that we have, that we are going to have some great races in the future, particularly when we are going to try and improve the cars and the competitiveness of the teams and the ability to follow.”