Chasing Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 grand prix victories, Toto Wolff reckons it will be “very emotional” for Lewis Hamilton when it happens.
A decade ago many believed it would never happen, that Schumacher’s numbers would stand the test of the time.
But season by season Hamilton has closed in, taking race wins on his way to World titles, to sit one behind Schumacher for both race wins and championships.
Hamilton will equal Schumacher’s all-time race win record with his next victory before potentially breaking it before the year is over.
Wolff feels it will be a monumental occasion.
“I admire Michael’s achievements so much,” the Mercedes motorsport boss said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“He has his print over a generation of drivers – for 10 years it was the Michael Schumacher era.
“I remember when I met him for the first time it was on a flight to Singapore and he invited me to play backgammon.
“I think I consider myself a good backgammon player but I was so starstruck that I lost the first two games and thought ‘he’s going to think I’m an idiot’, but I just couldn’t believe I was sitting opposite Michael who had won 90-odd races and seven World Championships.
“So in a way I miss him, although I have never known him properly, because I think I would have had good exchanges with him.
“Lewis would never have dreamed of achieving 91 wins or having a similar career like Michael and certainly for a driver it must be very emotional.
“If he can do it, it will be overwhelming to be on the same level as the greatest driver of all time.”
In the last eight years, we have got used to scenes like this…
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Hamilton was asked about his run of success with Mercedes, which has included five World titles and 69 race wins.
“It’s been the best eight years of my life but there was still a lot of success before that with McLaren and that was a great period of my life also – a lot of learning, a lot of success together, which was awesome,” he told Sky’s David Croft.
The Brit hailed his father Anthony’s early sacrifices to ensure Hamilton would one day make it into Formula 1.
“We talk a lot, me and my dad and we always reminisce about the past – remember when this happened, when that happened, and look where we are today,” he said.
“These are real beautiful moments to have with someone whose sacrificed so much, as parents do, pretty much their whole lives for their kids to give them a better opportunity.
“Roles are reversed now, my dad was telling me I could do anything and now I’m telling him, ‘you’re amazing, there’s so much you can do, you’re still so young and there’s so much you can do moving forwards, an inspiration to so many parents out there'”.