Former Mercedes vice-president Norbert Haug thinks there’d be nothing to choose between Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at their peaks.
With Hamilton joining Schumacher on 91 wins at the Eifel Grand Prix and all but set to match the German haul of seven World Championships, the debate over which, if either, is the best Formula driver of all time has grown and grown.
Haug, who was vice-president of Mercedes’s motorsport branch until 2012, has now weighed in, refusing to pick a side by stating that there’d be little to choose either way.
“If they had both raced each other in their prime, there would probably only have been a few thousandths of a second between them,” he told Motorsport.com.
“Both drivers also have the utmost respect for each other, which is nice to see. I have never heard one of them speak a bad word about the other.”
Schumacher was renowned for his work-rate and dedication, fundamentally changing the sport in terms of fitness levels and regimes.
Hamilton does not have the same reputation, with the Brit enjoying an often glamorous lifestyle outside of F1. Some criticise him for this, but Haug thinks that he’s every bit as hard-working.
“All kinds of pictures on Instagram really do not deliver fast lap times,” he added.
“All extremely good drivers are willing to make those extra meters [in terms of training work]. They are both perfectionists, always ask questions and even after a one-two punch they want a very long debrief.
“That’s why they can get on people’s nerves.”
Like Haug, Schumacher too left Mercedes in 2012, with Lewis Hamilton replacing him. There has been talk that the team forced the former out to ensure the latter would join, but that apparently isn’t true.
“But I know only a few rumours from the F1 world that actually turn out to be correct. That also applies in this case,” Haug said.
“No one retired him early. In reality, it was a very clear and structured process, with Michael always in charge.
“He laid the foundation for Lewis’s records in a way.”