Ross Brawn has paid tribute to Lewis Hamilton for finding a “unique way of being a great champion”, but the Formula 1 managing director admits he was initially “slightly nervous about his approach to being a professional racing driver”.
Hamilton wrapped up his sixth Drivers’ title at the United States Grand Prix which means he is now just one behind Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Brawn worked with both Schumacher and Hamilton. He was Benetton and Ferrari’s technical director when the former won his seven titles, while he was at Mercedes when Hamilton joined the Brackley squad in 2013.
And Brawn admits the two’s approach to F1 could not be more contrasting, but praised Mercedes for giving Hamilton “the freedom he absolutely needs” to “become one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers in history”.
“I think the best compliment I can pay Lewis today is to say that he has found a unique way of being a great champion,” he said in his latest F1 review.
“I have to admit that when I started working with him back in 2013 I was slightly nervous about his approach to being a professional racing driver.
“For me, the benchmark was Michael Schumacher, a man totally dedicated to chasing success and at the same time very keen to guard his privacy and that of his family.
“Even then, Lewis was demonstrating a truly eclectic approach to his career and whilst totally professional he preferred a lifestyle that was definitely less monastic than Michael’s.
“Lewis has always been comfortable moving in different circles, such as music and fashion, and that’s given him the energy to develop his talent still further, while always ensuring he is in the best physical shape possible, which is vital in the modern Formula 1 era.
“And at Mercedes, Lewis has found the right support in an environment that is stimulating technically but that at the same time allows him the freedom he absolutely needs.
“I therefore congratulate Toto Wolff and the whole team, as they’ve not only given him an amazing car year after year but they’ve allowed Lewis to develop and grow to become one of the greatest drivers in the history of Formula 1, certainly the strongest of the last 15 years.”