Formula 1 Managing Director Ross Brawn has heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton, saying he would put him in the same class as Michael Schumacher.
Having worked alongside Schumacher and Hamilton during his time with Mercedes, Brawn is uniquely qualified to discuss both drivers, and believes six-time champion Hamilton possesses abilities similar to that of seven-time champ Schumacher.
“They are both massively talented in what they do in the car and those moments where they pull something out of nowhere,” Brawn told The Guardian.
“Some of the qualifying laps Lewis has done have left the team speechless. Michael was the same, there are sometimes just those drivers who can do that.”
Racing in Formula 1 from 1991-2006, and again from 2010-2012, Schumacher finished his career having shattered virtually every record in the F1 book. Now Hamilton is entering a stage in his career where the German’s numbers are firmly in reach, and Brawn hopes his achievements won’t be denigrated by the quality of the cars Mercedes have provided him.
“Lewis has deserved it, he has deserved every championship he has won,” he said. “He has got himself at the right team at the right time and he is at peak performance. He doesn’t make mistakes and is a fantastic driver, his performance is exceptional.”
“It is not like Lewis is winning out of luck. He is winning because he is doing a fantastic job and you have to give him credit.”
Asked how Hamilton stacks-up against Schumacher directly, Brawn was not as forthcoming, suggesting the difference in eras makes it hard to compare.
“They were different cars, different eras, different competition,” he said. “Lewis is incredibly professional, dedicated and committed but Michael had an intensity of detail toward the car that Lewis doesn’t need.
“Michael came up in an era where there wasn’t the technology there is now. Data analysis was pretty crude. Now a driver gets out of the car and the engineer has an analysis of the car’s behaviour through every corner. When I first worked with Michael we had a sheet with the corner numbers on and he had to explain where he had understeer or oversteer and we would then analyse that.”
For Brawn personally, it has been over six years since he was last on the inside of an F1 team. Now in his fourth year with Liberty Media, his goal is not to win championships, but bring significant change to the championship itself.
“These cars at the moment are terrible aerodynamically when they get close to each other,” Brawn explained. “They have a plethora of bits that fall off as soon as they look at each other. That’s not a racing car, you don’t want a tank but you want something which is robust enough to race properly and we have lost that.”
A problem Brawn hopes to fix with the introduction of new technical regulations for 2021, he also hopes that measures such as the budget cap can move the sport away from a system that has long-struggled with competitive balance.
“We are moving away from this unanimity which has always blocked anything happening,” Brawn said. “It has been counterproductive. We are moving away from the rigid, locked situation where things can’t change even when they are wrong. Developing F1 is not just technical or sporting regulations, it’s financial regulations and the governance.”