Sebastian Vettel has won the F1 Drivers’ Championship four times behind the wheel of a Red Bull Racing car and whatever team he drove for has always been one of the first to praise the achievements of Sir Lewis Hamilton. Now, Vettel has praised Hamilton for achieving an unprecedented 100 Grand Prix victories saying it’s a ‘huge achievement.’
Lewis Hamilton has previously stated that the rivalry he had with Sebastian Vettel was his best memory: “Seb's battles are my favourite so far…knowing that I was racing against an incredible driver, and not only that but a great man in Seb.”
In return, the 4-time F1 Drivers’ Champion has been equally complimentary of Lewis Hamilton, as shown when Vettel said two years ago: "I think if somebody wins the title six times, then he deserves all of it. That is what I told him as well. I am happy for him…We need to respect what he achieved the last years”
A year later, after a seventh F1 Drivers’ title was claimed by Hamilton at Istanbul Park, Vettel remarked: "It's a massive achievement. I'm happy I can witness [it] first-hand…I told him [Hamilton] it's very special for us because we can witness history being made today. I think he is greatest of our era for sure.”
Now, with Lewis Hamilton having claimed an unprecedented 100 Formula One Grand Prix victories, it is hardly surprising to hear that Vettel has been quick to pay tribute once again after Sunday’s events in Russia.
“I think it was coming.” said Sebastian Vettel when asked by RaceFans.net. “It’s a huge achievement and I’m very happy for him. I think he deserves it. I don’t know how he has driven today, but I guess he had a good race,” Vettel added.
For those who had seen the battle on track in Sochi, they were all too aware that Hamilton’s landmark victory was one of the more fortunate ones of the British driver’s career.
A combination of Mercedes’ strategy and an unfortunate decision by Lando Norris to not pit for intermediates in the closing stages with four laps to run was ultimately very costly. Norris would claim Driver of the Day despite crossing the line in seventh position but this was a clear sign of the promising talent of a young McLaren driver. An all too familiar reminder of Lewis Hamilton’s own feat behind the wheel of a McLaren and a sign of things to come for the Woking-based team.
For now though, Lewis Hamilton remains the man to beat and has a two-point lead over Max Verstappen in the battle for the 2021 F1 Drivers’ title. Sunday’s feat, which saw the Briton leapfrog the talented Dutchman on Sunday, was put into context by Vettel:
"I think he [Hamilton] is the greatest of our era, for sure. I think it's always difficult to compare. How can you possibly compare [Juan Manuel] Fangio, Stirling Moss to our generation? You can't. Maybe we would be useless because we'd all be s***ing ourselves in those cars, maybe they would be useless in our cars because they're way too fast, who knows? But it doesn't matter. I think every era has its driver, or its drivers, and Lewis is certainly the biggest, greatest of our era."
This is what the record book shows. However, for Sebastian Vettel the man who spoke so passionately on the recent Netflix documentary, Schumacher, one man will always be the greatest.
"To me, certainly emotionally, Michael [Schumacher] will always be the greatest driver. But there's no doubt Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved. He's equalled the championships, he has more races won, he has a lot more pole positions, so I think he's done everything you can ask for."
Michael Schumacher’s team boss at Ferrari during the peak of his success was Ross Brawn, the man who is now the Motorsport Director of F1. Brawn believes there are many more victories yet to be claimed by Hamilton:
“Who knows where it’s going to end up" said Brawn. "He’s with us for another couple of years at least – and he will win races every year…I don’t think we could predict 200 wins, but I think we could certainly predict 20 more as he’s still massively competitive and motivated. It’s just staggering and congratulations to him, as it’s a [century] that no one ever thought would be achieved."
Lewis Hamilton’s latest triumph is being met with praise in column inches, on social media and across television. To reach 100 victories in the pinnacle of motorsport is a stunning feat. As Vettel said, Hamilton certainly is the greatest driver of the current era but for how long that remains will be down to his rivals. As a result of the form shown this year by Max Verstappen (the closest rival to dethroning Hamilton) one can imagine a few more victories will yet be needed to keep the Dutchman at bay.
For many people (not just Sebastian Vettel), seven-time F1 Champion Michael Schumacher is the greatest ever driver Formula One has seen. His son Mick Schumacher has previously said that his father had always told him that “records are there to be broken”. Well, Lewis Hamilton is up to ‘100 not out’ and he is not finished yet. Therefore, this record may be one that lasts many decades to come. A record, which as Sebastian Vettel said, is a huge achievement!