Sebastian Vettel says his ‘hero’ Michael Schumacher remains the best racing driver he has ever seen, despite Lewis Hamilton equalling his all-time Formula 1 win record.
Hamilton’s triumph at the Eifel Grand Prix matched Schumacher’s tally of 91 victories, with it highly likely the record will be broken soon.
But while Vettel says he has nothing but admiration for what Hamilton’s has achieved in his career, he says that Schumacher remains a step above anyone else he has ever seen competing.
“I think I can’t respect his efforts enough,” said Vettel about Hamilton’s record equally equalling achievement.
“It’s been the number in my head that I thought would never be beaten or equalled. I think we can be quite certain he will exceed this number.
“Nevertheless, I have to say that Michael will always be my hero.
“And I think Michael had something about him that I haven’t seen in another driver so far.”
Vettel says that his appreciation for Schumacher’s skills have been amplified by seeing him drive away from F1 events – either in karting events or as teammates at the Race of Champions.
“I think he was better than anybody else I’ve ever seen so far,” he said. “I think he had a natural talent that is very difficult to explain.
“I think if you saw him go karting, obviously I didn’t see him at a young age but I did at an older age, and I was happy to join him in the Race of Champions a couple of times.
“So you see a little bit more of the skills and the car control.
“And both the karting experience and the Race of Champions experience, I think [showed] he had a natural ability that, as I said, I haven’t seen with anyone else so far.
“On top of that, he had an incredible work ethic, but I think it’s the combination of the two that for me stands out. I haven’t seen a match yet.
Vettel does make clear, however, that his view of where the two drivers stack up is perhaps impacted by the different time periods he has seen them operate in.
“I looked up to Michael when I was a child and Lewis, I didn’t look up to him when I was a child because I was racing him,” he said. “So it’s a different situation going in.
“But probably in another 10, 15 or 20 years’ time, there will be more admiration for that.
“Obviously, when you’re still active, you’re looking at yourself and not so much others. But as I said you cannot cherish him enough for what he has achieved.”