On his way towards a record-equalling seventh World title, Esteban Ocon says Lewis Hamilton’s success isn’t “random”, it’s hard work paying off.
Hamilton could once again write his name into Formula 1’s record books this Sunday as a victory at the Eifel Grand Prix would be his 91st, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record for the most F1 wins.
That would put the Brit a step closer to a seventh World title, another record that he would share with the Ferrari legend.
As to be expected it has opened the debate over who is Formula 1’s greatest driver of all time.
Triple World Champion Jackie Stewart says he wouldn’t put Hamilton in his top three as he has an “almost unfair advantage” with Mercedes while Bernie Ecclestone says the Brit has “God knows who” helping him drive the car.
However, Ocon, who worked alongside Hamilton at Mercedes last year, feels the 35-year-old deserves more credit for what he has achieved.
“Well, hats off because obviously he has been on the top of his game for a long, long time,” he told Express Sport.
“Seeing him work closely… people think ‘oh he is just talented, he jumps in the car and he has a Mercedes and it does everything for him’. That is not true.
“He is working very hard with his engineers, he is guiding them to good directions. He is guiding the team and improving their confidence the right way.
“He is part of that and his success is not just random – that doesn’t exist. It’s not just random. Everything that he does, he is obviously very talented, but he works very hard for it.
“Some people don’t necessarily understand all of that.”
This season Hamilton is chasing title number seven and should, given his 44-point advantage over Valtteri Bottas in the standings, achieve it with ease.
That means next season he can go for number eight with Ocon saying he will once again be the favourite to retain the crown.
“We all hope Formula 1 is going to get closer so that some other teams can fight for wins,” Ocon said.
“It is getting closer so hopefully it won’t be as easy for him to get the title next year.
“You never know from one year to another. Everyone is working so hard in Formula 1 and obviously Mercedes have been dominating for years.
“I think they are going to be competitive again. I don’t see them dropping the order but everyone is working hard and they can catch the pack up.”