Hamilton vs. Schumacher: who is the greatest?

Lucy Rimmer gives her take on the Hamilton vs. Schumacher GOAT debate

Lucy Rimmer
21st October 2020
Lewis Hamilton has officially matched Michael Schumacher’s record of the most race wins, with each driver having won 91 races throughout their career.

Hamilton equalled Schumacher’s record, set in 2006, after winning the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany on October 11. He is likely to be setting his own record before the end of the 2020 season. 

Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, presented the Mercedes driver with one of his father's helmets after the race. It was a beautiful way to honour Schumacher’s records and could be seen as the 'baton' being passed on to Hamilton. He can now go on and set a new record himself.

After all, in the words of the great German racer: "records are there to be broken."

After the race, Hamilton described Schumacher as “an icon and legend of the sport.”

Statistically speaking, it is safe to say both drivers are legendary, but here are some interesting stats:

  • Schumacher started 306 races; Hamilton has started 261
  • Schumacher won 7 world championships; Hamilton has 6 and will likely equal the record this season
  • Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to win at least one race in every season of his F1 career
  • Schumacher started a race in pole position 68 times; Hamilton has 96 times (the most of any driver)

When talking about sporting legends, it is important to explore the concept of legacy. Schumacher had always been known as somewhat 'legendary', but this may have been further exacerbated by his tragic accident and the nostalgia surrounding him. Many of the drivers on the grid today, such as Sebastian Vettel, have spoken about watching F1 growing up and remembering Schumacher consistently winning in his bright red Ferrari.

I'm sure this same sense of iconic status will surround Hamilton when he retires, but while we can still watch him week on week, there is no nostalgia surrounding him. However, the children who watch Formula 1 today will idolise Hamilton as an untouchable hero, in the same way that Schumacher is. 

It will always be controversial to compare athletes across eras, but it is equally difficult in the context of F1 because of a driver’s reliance on their car. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that both drivers were in the best car on their respective tracks. Schumacher was, and Hamilton now is, the best driver on their respective grids.

Featured image: via Top Stats on Youtube - "Greatest Formula 1 drivers. Michael Schumacher vs Lewis Hamilton"
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