Irvine: Lewis not close to Schumi, Vettel a one trick pony

Eddie Irvine has never been one to mince his words and although he admits he is not an ardent follower of Formula 1 it has not stopped from giving a sidelines assessment of this era’s two top drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking to BBC, Irvine, a teammate of the great Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, said of today’s preeminent drivers on the F1 grid today, “I think Vettel is good if he is at the front and doesn’t have anybody to race.”

“When you watch Lewis race, he’s focused on racing and Lewis is really focused on getting ahead of the other guy.”

“Vettel, when he is racing is someone, is focused as much on the other guy as he is on where he is going and inevitably crashes into the other guy, which happens nearly all the time.

“I think Lewis is in a different league from all of them. He’s not in Michael’s league and I don’t even think he is close, although he’s racking up lots of wins. He’s got the best car, there are more races and the competition is debatable.”

“I think Vettel is a good driver, but as a four-time World Champion, I just don’t see it. I think he is massively overrated, he’s a one-trick pony and Lewis has a much broader talent.

“Michael was on it every day, like Senna, but Lewis has his off days,” he added. “If you look over the two years Lewis and (Jenson) Button were together, Button actually outscored him over two years.

“No-one ever did that to Michael, his level of performance was consistently higher,” reckoned Irvine clearly not referring to the German driver’s second coming for Mercedes.

“Lewis is an amazingly talented driver,” continued the former Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar driver. “When he first came to Formula 1 he was fantastic to watch and his overtaking was second to none.”

“He’s probably a better overtaker than Michael was, but for pace, and consistency over a whole weekend, over a whole year, I don’t think anyone touches Michael, even Senna,” added Irvine.

Irvine made his grand prix debut with Jordan at the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix. In 1996 he joined Ferrari to partner Schumacher where he remained until 1999 before departing for two years with Jaguar and quitting the sport at the end of 2002.

In 148 Grand Prix starts Irvine won four times, finishing on the podium a further 22 times. His best result was second runner-up in the 1999 F1 World Championship.

Big Question: Do you agree with Eddie?