Ross Brawn has heralded Lewis Hamilton as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers in history after the Englishman effectively claimed his sixth world championship last weekend.
However, having worked closely with Michael Schumacher throughout his career, including during his domination of the sport with Ferrari, Ross Brawn admits Hamilton’s different approach was initially a concern.
“It’s hard to find anything new to say about the trajectory of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career,” Brawn wrote in his regular post-event column for the sport’s official website.
Brawn was in charge of the Mercedes team when Hamilton was recruited, the squad having grown from what was Brawn GP in 2009 (and prior to that Honda, BAR, and originally Tyrrell).
“One could let the statistics do the talking but that would be a rather dry way of acknowledging his sporting greatness,” Brawn reasoned.
“Therefore, 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.
“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.”
Hamilton made his debut in Formula 1 with McLaren in 2007, famously missing out on the world championship in his maiden year by a single point to Kimi Raikkonen.
Now 34, the 83 time grand prix winner holds a contract until the end of 2020 when sweeping regulation changes are set to be introduced.
Statistically, Hamilton is just eight wins shy of Schumacher’s total of 91, and another title next season would see him draw level with the great German’s tally of seven.
Two rounds remain in the 2019 Formula 1 season, first in Brazil before the season finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.
With 11 wins to his name this year, victories in both would see Hamilton equal Schumacher’s (2004) and Sebastian Vettel’s (2013) record for most wins in a season with 13.