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Q1: Column on the best of all time Hamilton or Schumacher?

Hamilton or Schumacher? There is no answer!

It is the question of all questions about Lewis Hamilton’s seventh World Championship title in Formula 1. A column by Ralf Bach

Pélé, Franz Beckenbauer, Messi or Maradonna? John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury or Mick Jagger? Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Juan-Manuel Fangio or Ayrton Senna? In every field, be it football, rock music or Formula 1, there is the eternal question that does not find the right answer: Who is the best of all times in his guild? Only one thing is certain: there are no losers in this comparison. Because everyone has achieved something extraordinary. Because everyone has inspired and influenced people. Because everyone is the hero is of millions.

Lewis Hamilton

© LAT / Mercedes

It is therefore extremely difficult to compare drivers in Formula 1 as well. One thing is certain: Senna, Schumacher and Hamilton are the most frequently mentioned when it comes to the question of the best of all time.

But it also depends on who you ask. How old he or she is, what time he or she grew up. An example: It was 1990, I was still green behind the ears when it comes to my experience as a Formula 1 reporter, when I was invited to Manfred von Brauchitsch’s 85th birthday. Mercedes had asked to Hof to honor their hero from the Silver Arrow era before World War II.

So I welcomed one of those idols of this racing era who, wearing dust caps and goggles, swept death-defying at an average speed of almost 140 km / h through the “green hell” of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. “Boy, did you serve?” He asked me. When I answered “Yes!” answered and the for him extremely important little formality was clarified in his sense, he was ready to report on the time in which death was a constant co-driver.

Von Brauchitsch also followed the current Formula 1 at that time, which was characterized by the duel between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The Brazilian Senna was already considered the best driver of all time. But von Brauchitsch didn’t want to know anything about it. “Youngsters, forget them all. The fastest living being on four wheels was and always will be Bernd Rosemeyer.”

Auto Union driver Rosemeyer was the hero of the 30s, with the image of a James Dean. Von Brauchitsch raved about his competitor: “The Rosemeyer had a vehicle control that was magical. He had a way of driving over all problems and he did everything with the carefree smile of someone chosen by God. He knew that and therefore he always risked more than all of us together. Unfortunately, once too much. ”

The witness of an era of fearlessness knew: “He should not have gone out on the world record runs back in January 1938. Despite the strong wind he wanted to regain the record that Carratsch (Rudolf Carraciola, editor) had chased away from him shortly before. Everyone, even the Auto Union people, advised against it. But Rosemeyer just smiled and drove off. Then came the gust of wind. It overturned at well over 400 kilometers per hour. We were all frozen because it suddenly showed us that in the end he was only human. Before we weren’t so sure. “

Hamilton or Schumacher? There is no answer!

Ayrton Senna

© Picture Alliance

In Brazil there is still similar talk about Ayrton Senna. How many titles would he have added to his three, one might well ask, had not God called him to himself in Imola in 1994? Team colleague and friend Gerhard Berger is just as committed as von Brauchitsch did. “Ayrton was the best driver Formula 1 has ever seen.”

Alone: ​​Since humans are a number fetishist, the comparison between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher is at the moment. Despite all the Sennas, Rosemeyers and Fangios. Both are the most successful in terms of numbers. Both have seven titles, Hamilton has more wins and more poles. But who is the better one? That is hard to answer. One can only approach the answer by comparing the circumstances of the titles and victories.

For Schumacher speaks: He had to fight much harder for it. Only in 2001, 2002 and 2004 did he have the best car. In 1994 and 1995 the Williams was actually superior to its Benetton. Still, he defeated Damon Hill. In 2000 the McLaren-Mercedes was at least equal, in 2003 it also had a strong BMW-Williams.

Hamilton only had to fight strong opponents in 2007 and 2008. In his debut year 2007, he fought and defeated Fernando Alonso in an internal McLaren-Mercedes duel. However, he was so busy in the infight with the Spaniard that Ferrari star Kimi Raikkonen fled past the World Cup. In 2008 the Briton Felipe Massa fought in the Ferrari in the last 500 meters of the final race in Brazil.
With the Mercedes, Hamilton has had by far the best car in the field since 2014. He “only” had to beat his teammates. From 2014 to 2016 it was Nico Rosberg, then Valtteri Bottas. He lost to Rosberg in 2016. Just like in 2011 against Jenson Button at McLaren. However, the McLaren was not good enough to take the title. Only Bottas has never been able to hold a candle to the British in any season. Schumacher, on the other hand, drove all his teammates to the ground before his first resignation. After his comeback, he lost to Mercedes, of all things, to the later Hamilton winner Nico Rosberg – but with over 40 and a serious motorcycle accident in his bones.

To be fair: the strength of each passenger speaks for Hamilton. Schumacher had to deal with Jos Verstappen, JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert at Benetton. Verstappen was considered a super talent, but was still too inexperienced. Lehto and Herbert just weren’t good enough. Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello had to bow to Schumacher’s class right from the start and act more as slaves than teammates.

One thing is certain: there are no losers in the comparison, only winners. Everyone should decide for themselves who is the best of all time …

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