Lewis Hamilton says before joining Mercedes he wasn’t aware just how strong Michael Schumacher’s influence was in developing teams.
Hamilton joined the Silver Arrows back in 2013, a surprise move at the time, but to say it paid off would be an understatement with the Briton winning the Drivers’ Championship in six of the seven seasons since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014.
And with that success Hamilton has now tied Schumacher with seven World Championships to his name, but it was only when Hamilton joined Mercedes that he realised just how important Schumacher’s influence was in pushing a team forward.
“In terms of helping develop the car, that’s something that I think that drivers – and as I’m approaching where Michael was – I never fully understood,” he told Autosport.
“It’s difficult for someone starting in F1, for young drivers, it’s hard for them to fully understand what it is that Michael did, what I am doing in this team.
“They’ll just see that we have a good car, just see that Michael had a good car, but now I’m here I understand what Michael did with the team, or perhaps what he might have done with this team. I’m sure it’s similar to what I’ve had to do.
“You know, you have to be the rudder. You have this powerful group of intelligent, impassioned people and of course you have the head of the team, which is the main rudder.
“But in terms of development, how to get the car to go further and work with the characteristics of the driver, that’s my job and I’d say I’m definitely very, very proud of that. Unfortunately people don’t get to see all that in the background.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 15, 2020
Schumacher lifted the first of his seven titles with Benetton back in 1994, winning the World Championship again the following season.
For 1996 he joined the struggling Ferrari team and by 2000 tasted World Championship success once again, the first of five Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles in a row for Schumacher and Ferrari.
Schumacher would retire in 2006 but returned for the start of the 2010 season with the newly rebranded Mercedes team.
The German racer would spend three seasons with Mercedes, claiming one podium finish before stepping aside for Hamilton at the end of the 2012 campaign.
As well as matching Schumacher’s record of seven World titles this year Hamilton has eclipsed his benchmark for most race wins in Formula 1. The Briton now has 94 victories and counting.