Hamilton ranks alongside Schumacher despite recent struggles, says former F1 champion Scheckter

By Sports Desk September 08, 2023

Jody Scheckter does not believe Lewis Hamilton's recent struggles will impact his Formula 1 legacy, insisting he will be remembered alongside Michael Schumacher as an all-time great.

Hamilton equalled Schumacher's record of seven drivers' championship titles in 2020, but he has failed to surpass the German icon's tally due to the dominance of Max Verstappen.

Having captured the title in controversial circumstances in 2021 and defended it last year, Verstappen has now won 10 successive races to close in on a third championship, which he could seal as early as the Japanese Grand Prix later this month.

Hamilton, meanwhile, sits fourth in the drivers' standings amid another difficult campaign, which has been plagued by suggestions he could soon walk away from the sport.

However, Hamilton opted to extend his F1 career until at least 2025 by penning a new contract with Mercedes last week, and Scheckter is pleased to see him still enjoying his time on the grid.

"I retired at 30 years old. He wants to carry on," the 1979 world champion told Stats Perform. "That's such a personal decision. He's got to do what he wants to do, if he's enjoying it.

"He's doing a good job, too. I thought [team-mate George] Russell would be quicker. But you know, Lewis is quick, he's doing a good job.

"If he gets a team-mate that beats him all the time… it's going to come, there's no question about it, it will come sooner or later. But people will still remember.

"You can't win that many world championships and not be recognised as an all-time great. 

"Some people get off at the wrong time, they carry on and want to hold onto it until they lose that, and people forget some of the other stuff that happened before."

Asked how Hamilton's achievements compare to those of Schumacher, the former Ferrari driver added: "I put them all in the same category. You know, there's the car there. 

"I think Lewis was a cleaner driver than Schumacher. In his tactics and stuff, he was more like a gentleman on the track than Schumacher was, so I commend him for that."

Sitting above Hamilton in the 2023 standings is his former McLaren team-mate and long-term rival Fernando Alonso, with the 42-year-old enjoying something of a renaissance with Aston Martin.

Alonso has racked up seven podium finishes in 2023 after finishing ninth in the drivers' championship while representing Alpine last year, and though Scheckter has not always been the Spaniard's biggest fan, he respects his longevity.

Reflecting on his own decision to retire in 1980, just one year after being crowned world champion, Scheckter said: "Some people say they enjoy it. I used to say if I'm enjoying it, I'm not trying hard enough.

"But if you're enjoying it, you're going to carry on longer and longer, you know? Maybe I pushed too hard to try and do it, so it's just a personal thing.

"Fernando's obviously very good. I didn't like some of the stuff he did earlier in his career, I didn't like it very much at all, actually. 

"But he's good, he's aggressive. I don't think he's as good as some of the press think he is, but he's doing a good job. Now, he's doing a really great job."

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    Lewis Hamilton labelled his clash with Max Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix as a "racing incident" after finishing third on Sunday. 

    Hamilton and Verstappen made contact coming into turn one at the Hungaroring with seven laps of the race remaining. 

    The Dutchman attempted to go on the inside of his former rival to secure the final podium place, but in doing so locked up his front tyres. 

    Verstappen and Hamilton made contact, with the three-time world champion briefly sent into the air and off the track as he was overtaken by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. 

    The stewards swiftly placed the incident under investigation and conducted their analysis of it after the race, with the pair both escaping punishment for the collision. 

    "For me it was a racing incident," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

    "Ultimately he was much quicker and he sent it. I moved a little to defend, but I left enough space on the inside and he locked up and obviously then couldn't turn.

    "He came at a different trajectory and clipped my wheels. If he was under control he would have gone by."

    “It’s nerve-wracking when you see the pace at which they close the gap on corners," Hamilton added of Red Bull's pace.

    "You just laugh to yourself because it’s not something I can do, particularly on the last sector they were very very strong, same as the McLarens.

    “I saw him coming from a long way back and he was able to brake a lot later than me, but he sent it up the inside, I stayed still and he clipped the wheel and went over, so I think it was a racing incident."

    Hamilton's third-place finish saw him claim a 200th podium, the first driver in the history of the competition to reach that milestone. 

    The seven-time world champion, who claimed 49 of those podium finishes with McLaren, was pleased to see his former team produce their first one-two since the Italian Grand Prix in 2021. 

    “Big thanks to this amazing crowd and a huge congratulations to the McLarens with the one-two, that’s my old original family so it’s great to see," Hamilton said. 

    “For us, the team have done a great job at pushing this car ultimately, we didn’t have the pace of the McLarens or of the Red Bulls but we were just able to hold on at the beginning of the race, it was very tough to hold on and make those tyres last."

  • Verstappen fumes at 's***' Red Bull strategy after finishing fifth at Hungarian Grand Prix Verstappen fumes at 's***' Red Bull strategy after finishing fifth at Hungarian Grand Prix

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    Verstappen recorded his joint second-worst finish of the year at the Hungaroring as Oscar Piastri led Lando Norris in a McLaren one-two.

    The three-time world champion's race was defined by a collision with old rival Lewis Hamilton, coming into contact with the Mercedes on lap 63 when he overshot a corner on an attempted overtake.

    Verstappen vented his frustrations over team radio, telling race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: "You gave me this s*** strategy. I'm trying to rescue what's left."

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the race, the Dutchman refused to apologise for those comments as he said: "I don't think we need to apologise. 

    "I just think we need to do a better job. I don't know why people think you cannot be vocal on a radio. This is a sport. If some people don't like that, then stay home."

    Verstappen, who also dropped below Charles Leclerc late on, continued: "I'm not happy.

    "On a day when we're lacking pace compared to McLaren, you hope we do the right things with strategy, which was not the case.

    "You can't rely on a little pace advantage. Maybe last year when the car was quite a lot faster than everyone else, but in the position we are in now, we can't do that.

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    "Today we couldn't have beaten the McLarens, but a P3 was on the cards if we were on it a bit more."

  • Norris puts team first as McLaren secure Hungarian Grand Prix one-two Norris puts team first as McLaren secure Hungarian Grand Prix one-two

    Lando Norris said he will always put the team first after handing fellow McLaren driver Oscar Piastri his maiden Formula One victory at Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

    Norris started on pole at the Hungaroring but dropped two places at the first corner as team-mate Piastri and world champion Max Verstappen surpassed him.

    Verstappen later fell away and ultimately finished fifth, while Norris inched ahead of Piastri after making an earlier pitstop.

    Norris – who claimed his first win at the Miami Grand Prix in May – was repeatedly asked to hand the lead back to Piastri but refused to do so until two laps before the finish.

    It looked like Norris might refuse the order as engineer Will Joseph told him he would need Piastri's support to push for the world championship, but he told reporters after the race he would always prioritise the team. 

    "It's tough. It would be tough for anyone when you're leading the race to give it up," Norris told Sky Sports. "I was obviously put in the position. 

    "They made me box first and gave me the chance to lead the race and pull away quite comfortably and to do what I was doing.

    "I think it was fair to give the position back. I don't want to come across as the guy who is not fair. Oscar has done a lot for me in the past and helped me in many races.

    "He drove a better race than I did. He got a good start, a better start and mine sucked. He deserved it and it was the right thing to do."

    McLaren team principal Andrea Stella, meanwhile, was proud of the drivers' efforts, telling Sky Sports: "We are on this trajectory together. 

    "None of us – the team, Lando or Oscar – can go alone. That's the message that we discussed on Sunday morning.

    "With racing drivers you need to refresh this message. That's why we have this meeting every Sunday.

    "We are extremely pleased by how our drivers are supporting the trajectory of McLaren which is incredible. For me, that's the news today."

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