Aldo Costa is convinced that Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher are more similar than most think after working alongside both at Mercedes and Ferrari respectively.
Costa is one of the most decorated designers and engineers in F1 history, having played an instrumental role in Schumacher’s dominance with Ferrari at the turn of the century before replicating his success with Hamilton at Mercedes.
The Italian stood down from his role at Mercedes at the end of 2018 before being appointed chief technical officer of Dallara in 2020.
Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher compared
Having replaced Schumacher at Mercedes at the end of 2012 season, Hamilton shocked the F1 world to its core last week by announcing that he will join Ferrari next year.
As one of the few people who has worked with both Schumacher and Hamilton, Costa has revealed that F1’s only seven-time World Champions are more similar than fans assume.
He told QN Motori: “Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have many things in common. But there are also big differences between them.
“However, it is wonderful that the two most successful drivers in F1 history have chosen to link their names to Ferrari.”
Asked to name the better driver of the two, Costa said: “I refuse to answer, this is a provocation.
“I want to say right away that Michael and Lewis are less far apart than you might imagine.
“Both have always had a very analytical approach to things on the track. They are meticulous, very professional. They know that at certain levels it is the details that shift the balance, that determine the outcome.”
Put to him that Schumacher conducted himself like a robot over the course of his F1 career, Costa replied: “Wrong impression!
“Michael was very human in his working relationship. He would sit there with the engineers and calmly convey his feelings about the car he was driving. He was never obsessive, that’s all.
“[Hamilton is the] same thing. Lewis I got to know better, because in Mercedes I had a role that put me in more direct contact with the driver.
“He and I were symbiotic. Hamilton, like Schumi, asks for trust and trusts you.”
Costa went on to stress that Schumacher and Hamilton belong to different generations, even proposing the theory that Schumacher’s struggles upon his return to F1 with Mercedes in 2010 came as a result of the strict ban on testing.
He also believes the Pirelli era has posed a tougher challenge for drivers, with the likes of Hamilton having no influence on tyre development compared to Schumacher, who worked closely with Bridgestone at the peak of his powers.
Costa said: “[But] then, of course, they are also distinct and distant from each other. They belong to non-overlapping cultures. Can I give you an example?
“Schumacher was the last driver of an era when cars were developed on the track, through continuous testing on the asphalt. And in this he was formidable, unique I dare say.
“Lewis belongs to the time of the simulator. He has nothing to do with it, the rules have changed. In short: Michael was always behind the wheel, Hamilton almost never because he can’t.
“It’s no coincidence that when Schumi returned to racing in 2010, without circuit testing, he had a bad time, he really hated the simulator.
“We are talking about two phenomena. Let me give you another example: Schumi determined tyre development with his tests, because he could.
“In the era of Hamilton, the tyres are baptised first by the sole supplier and the greatness of the driver lies in his ability to make the most of tyres that he doesn’t know, that he didn’t help choose beforehand.
“And in this he is an absolute master, as Michael was in his world.”
Asked why Hamilton has decided to join Ferrari for 2025, Costa said: “Well, he’s an instinctive one. He followed his heart. It’s not a turn dictated by the God of money.
“I won’t answer here [if he can win with Ferrari]. In Maranello they know they have a lot to sort out.”
PlanetF1.com revealed earlier this week that a “no-poaching clause” in Hamilton’s current contract will prevent him from taking some of his most trusted Mercedes colleagues to Maranello.
Costa pointed out that Hamilton did not take any McLaren staff with him to Mercedes in 2013 and has insisted that he has no intention of reuniting with the British driver next year.
He said: “When he came to Mercedes in 2013 leaving McLaren, he presented himself [alone]. They called him crazy, but you know how it went.
“I am happily married to engineer Dallara, by the way we collaborate with the Cavallino on the Le Mans project.
“For the good that I bring him, I wish him well.”