Hamilton is now Schu­macher's nat­u­ral heir

F1 Racing (UK) - - IGNITION - Ben An­der­son @F1rac­ing _mag face­book.com/ f1rac­ing­mag in­sta­gram.com/ f1_rac­ing_­mag

As a young­ster grow­ing up in the nineties, be­gin­ning my own dis­cov­ery of For­mula 1, Michael Schu­macher was the neme­sis for a Da­mon Hill fan like me. On-track, Schumi was the driver I wanted Da­mon to be: a stu­pen­dously rapid and ruth­less win­ning ma­chine. Off-track, he ap­peared swag­ger­ingly ar­ro­gant, which is why I was drawn to­wards Hill’s hum­bler char­ac­ter – even though it was clear he was the lesser driver (sorry Da­mon).

What­ever I felt about Schu­macher per­son­ally, I couldn’t help but re­spect his driv­ing bril­liance. My dad al­ways pre­ferred Michael. But he saw Senna race, and pre­sum­ably recog­nised that same ca­pac­ity for chang­ing the face of the sport Schu­macher came to rede­fine and dom­i­nate for the best part of 10 years – un­til some­one called Fer­nando Alonso came along and fi­nally knocked him off his perch.

In this is­sue, we pay homage to Michael Schu­macher, kick­ing off a se­ries of spe­cial events across the Mo­tor­sport Net­work, as the great Ger­man driver will turn 50 on 3 Jan­uary. The man him­self sadly re­mains shut away from pub­lic life as he bat­tles to re­cover from head in­juries suf­fered in a skiing accident five years ago, but the legacy he left F1 is still there for all to see. Michael’s meth­ods have gal­vanised a whole gen­er­a­tion of drivers to aim for ever greater heights.

Per­haps no driver em­bod­ies that bet­ter than Lewis Hamilton, a driver in­spired by Senna but achiev­ing like Schu­macher, who in­creas­ingly looks primed to even­tu­ally top­ple Michael as the most suc­cess­ful driver in F1 his­tory. Hamilton’s method is dif­fer­ent, but he is in the process of sim­i­larly rais­ing the bar for mod­ern drivers. Hav­ing wrapped up his fifth world cham­pi­onship with two races to spare in Mex­ico, Hamilton has now equalled the late Juan Manuel Fan­gio, a man Hamilton refers to as ‘the God­fa­ther’ of F1. Schu­macher is the only tar­get left.

It’s con­ceiv­able Hamilton could match Michael’s tally of 91 wins and seven titles before his cur­rent con­tract ex­pires at the end of 2020. That’s eas­ier said than done, but what once seemed un­fath­omable – to Hamilton as much as any­one else – now seems per­fectly fea­si­ble, es­pe­cially if Lewis de­cides to stick around for 2021 and be­yond, and Mercedes re­main com­pet­i­tive through an­other ma­jor rule change.

Presently, Lewis is util­is­ing the in­cred­i­ble jug­ger­naut Mercedes have cre­ated in the hy­brid era to stun­ning ef­fect, in the same way Schu­macher and Fer­rari swept all before them after the turn of the Mil­len­nium. We at F1 Rac­ing con­grat­u­late Lewis and Mercedes on their fine achieve­ments this year. What­ever your feel­ings about Hamilton per­son­ally, you can­not help but re­spect his Schu­macher-es­que bril­liance. If Alonso was Schu­macher’s con­queror, Hamilton is surely his nat­u­ral heir.

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