Michael Schumacher believes it is possible that his record haul of seven Formula 1 World Championship world titles could be matched by fellow German Sebastian Vettel.
Earlier this week, the Spanish sports daily Marca quoted Vettel as saying that comparisons between himself and his former mentor Schumacher are “ridiculous”.
“I have three titles, which is nothing compared to seven,” he said.
“Beating his record is not something that can happen in the next couple of years, so I don’t even think about it,” the Red Bull driver added. “I have had some very good years but it could change suddenly.”
Schumacher, now 44 years old, has a slightly different view, however.
The great German said that Vettel, 26, is already on course for his fourth title – a feat not achieved by Schumacher until 2001, at the age of 32.
“He has the best package, and championships are usually won by the best,” Schumacher told Belgian television Vier.
“Records are there to be beaten,” he smiled. “They motivated me when I was racing, and in the end I achieved it.
“Believe me, if Sebastian was able to surpass what I did, I would be happy for him. In a short time he has won three titles, so why couldn’t he win seven?” added Schumacher.
German racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck, however, doubts that Vettel will overtake Schumacher as the most successful driver of all time.
“The times and the circumstances are too different,” he told Sport1, comparing the respective Schumacher and Vettel eras.
“If one night Schumacher dreamed of having a new front wing, he could have it the next day and test it as well.
“This is not possible under the current regulations.”
Stuck also said that Vettel’s success is highly dependent on the skills of another man – Adrian Newey.
“If, for whatever reason, Newey was not there anymore, I think the team could be in a very different situation,” he said.
Schumacher won his world titles in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; scoring 91 wins and 155 podiums in 307 starts. (GMM)