Ten world championships, 137 race wins and a number of clashes and controversies along the way. That’s what you get by putting together the two drivers that have wrote the most part of Formula 1 from 2007 to date.
We are of course talking about Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, not so-called ‘friends’, but ‘respectful rivals’ instead.
Despite having fought for the crown in the last three years and having had clashes –on and out of the racing track- those two drivers have grown a huge amount of respect between them, as Hamilton recently stated.
Probably recalling the Formula 3 days, Lewis started a memory journey up to nowdays about the relationship between Vettel and himself: “Me and Seb have a huge amount of respect for each other, and I think it’s grown over time” he said.
No matter the clashes occurred in Baku 2017 or at the 2019 Canadian GP. Those occasions, Hamilton continues, have actually helped their esteem to grow, once the adrenaline was drained: “I think these tough battles that we’ve had together last year have brought us closer in that respect and it means a huge amount to have respect from other drivers.”
The honest hug Sebastian gave last week to Lewis after his sixth world title hasn’t surprised anyone. That was not the first sign of respect the two of them have given to one another.
Memory goes back to when Hamilton took Vettel’s defence after the hard criticisms that followed the German’s driving mistakes. The other way around happened when Vettel hushed a Dutch journalist that had accused the #44 of having called Verstappen “a d**khead”.
Such a respectful rivalry recalls the years of Hakkinen and Schumacher, with whom also shares the polar opposite personalities of the two drivers involved. And, in Hamilton’s opinion, that’s one of the two keys that lead to their great sportsmanship: “Being at the forefront of the sport and both appreciating just how hard it is, individually, for us to do what we do. And I guess also over time Seb does his thing his own way, I do it my own way and we respect that about each other.”