12 October 2020

Hamilton takes aim at past drivers having ‘bee in their bonnet’ and debates who is greatest driver of all-time

Lewis Hamilton has attacked ‘negative’ drivers for criticising him after he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix victories.

The 35-year-old’s win in Germany at the weekend has led to the ‘greatest of all-time’ conversation rearing its head once more.

Hamilton now has a substantial lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ standings (Imago/PA Images)

And while Hamilton refuses to consider himself the best Formula 1 driver ever, he did take aim at those who have spoken negatively about his ability.

After his Eifel Grand Prix win, he said: "There's a lot of talk, in all sport, of the greatest past and present, but it's impossible to compare people. It's different times - we are evolving as human beings.

"If you put all the top drivers that have been the most successful in the sport and put them in the same cars, wouldn't that be something? But all the talk of who is and who's not, that's not important to me, what's important is the journey in this time and while I've been here.

"I think yes you can be definitely remembered for having the most and that will be something special to have, but as I said, it's the journey. It's what we've done along the way, it's obstacles you've faced, and everyone's got a different journey and a different way of doing things.

"I don't think you should knock anybody for the way you do things. I get knocked by many people, particularly older drivers. They still have a bee in their bonnet, I don't know why, maybe they'll get over it one day.

"I have so much respect for the past legends, even though they do continue to talk negatively about me all the time. But I still hold them in high regard as I know it was so difficult at a different time in history, it was incredibly tough for them, they remain the legends.

"In 20 years time, whenever it is, when I'm looking back, I can promise you this, I will not be talking down any young driver that is coming through and succeeding. The responsibility as an older driver is to shine the light as bright as possible and encourage those.

"There'll be someone else, whether it is Max or whoever it may be, who is going to be chasing the record that I eventually set. It would be the wrong kind of characteristic and approach to be hoping he doesn't break it."

Among those who have criticised him recently is fellow Brit Jackie Stewart, who insisted people could not regard Hamilton as the best ever because his car is far superior compared with everyone else on the grid.

"I don’t think that you can account [for] that sort of level of success," he told the In The Fast Lane Podcast.

"Just because today there are 20, 22 races, whereas in the old days when for example Juan Manuel Fangio, raced maybe sometimes six, eight or nine races a year in Formula 1.

"Lewis drives extremely well, make no mistake, I’m not in any way diminishing his skills, but it isn’t the same.

"Lewis made a very good decision when he left McLaren at that time and went to Mercedes-Benz. And I take my hat off to him for making that decision.

"But frankly, the car and the engine are now so superior that it’s almost unfair on the rest of the field.

"Juan Manuel Fangio in my mind is the greatest driver that’s ever lived. With Jim Clark as the second-greatest, even ahead of [Ayrton] Senna."

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