Written by Staff Writer by Curtis Cox, CNN Written by Staff Writer by Curtis Cox, CNN
World and Formula One title holder Lewis Hamilton is often mentioned in the same breath as four-time world champion Michael Schumacher , and for good reason. As one of the world’s finest racers, Hamilton can claim the title of “best ever Formula One champion.”
But a recent interview with triple Formula One world champion Juan Manuel Fangio could rule him out of that realm — just a year after it had been suggested he may fill Schumacher’s shoes.
Earlier this month, as Hamilton prepared to face Monegasque rival Sebastian Vettel in Abu Dhabi, veteran commentator Murray Walker slammed the German driver’s recent display.
This year, Hamilton romped to F1 championship victory by a wide margin, beating Vettel by 83 points.
After being interviewed on the BBC radio, Walker weighed in on the issue, saying: “The Ferrari driver has gone backwards this year. First of all, his speed was much better, but now I think he’s lost his balance.
“I think Hamilton just looks a bit flat now — there’s something missing.”
While this “something missing” may simply be Schumacher’s last competitive season, the comment is highly significant. Many believed that the German’s 18-year absence from the sport since retiring in 2012 was largely down to a debilitating brain injury sustained after a skiing accident in 2013.
Indeed, following a stellar career that earned him seven F1 titles, it had been suggested by some analysts that Schumacher’s career might never regain its former form. That, however, has not been borne out.
Formula One has clearly recovered from its 1990s and early 2000s troubles, when the sport was ripped apart by teams in an attempt to increase profit margins, but when it comes to its front men, there’s no avoiding that 2018 has been Hamilton’s year.
And that, said Max Verstappen, doesn’t mean his idol.
“I definitely see Schumacher as the best out there, Schumacher’s is the best motor racing, Formula One, sport, passion out there,” said the 18-year-old Dutch star.
“I don’t know if [I’m a] Michael Schumacher clone or not, but he’s the best out there.”