Lewis Hamilton should be classed in the same legendary bracket as Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, according to former title rival Felipe Massa.
Hamilton is poised to win his fourth world championship in Mexico on Sunday, in a season during which he has already surpassed Schumacher and Senna’s pole position totals to set a new F1 all-time record.
When’s the Mexican GP on Sky Sports?
How Hamilton can win the title in Mexico
Massa, who was pipped by Hamilton to the world title in 2008, reckons the Mercedes driver is worthy of comparison alongside two of F1’s most legendary names.
“Lewis is definitely one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1,” said Massa at the US GP.
“You cannot really take him away or [place him] in a different level compared to Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. He’s there.”
Most pole positions Driver Pole positions Lewis Hamilton 72 Michael Schumacher 68 Ayrton Senna 65 Sebastian Vettel 49 Jim Clark 33 Alain Prost 33
Massa was a front-running rival at Ferrari when Hamilton burst onto the F1 scene at McLaren a decade ago and says “all the time you saw Lewis in the car he was impressive”.
“He impressed the people in whatever category he did. It was the same with Ayrton Senna. It was the same with Michael Schumacher,” added Massa.
Most Grand Prix wins Driver Grand Prix wins Michael Schumacher 91 Lewis Hamilton 62 Alain Prost 51 Sebastian Vettel 46 Ayrton Senna 41
“The problem is people always love to look back and say in the past it was much better than now, which is not true.
“If [in football] you see Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and some other players, maybe even Neymar will be very soon on that level, they have nothing to lose compared to Maradona, Pele or whoever. It’s the same here [in F1].”
Lewis to go fourth alongside Vettel?
While Massa’s comments are bound to re-ignite the debate about where Hamilton stands among F1’s legends, a fourth title would draw the Mercedes driver alongside his contemporary, and closest title rival, Sebastian Vettel in the list of F1’s champion drivers.
Hamilton was within a point of winning the 2007 F1 drivers’ title in his first year in the sport, a season that was defined by his rivalry with then-McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.
And Hamilton has found an unlikely supporter in his quest to equal Vettel as a four-time champion in the Spaniard. i
“In a way I am happy that Lewis gets this fourth title,” Alonso told Channel 4. “It’s strange to see four Vettel and three for Hamilton, now there is much more logic.
“I think Lewis has had a better racing career.”
Formula 1’s most successful champions Driver Championships Michael Schumacher 7 Juan Manuel Fangio 5 Alain Prost 4 Sebastian Vettel 4 Lewis Hamilton 3 Jack Brabham 3 Sir Jackie Stewart 3 Niki Lauda 3 Nelson Piquet 3 Ayrton Senna 3 Six drivers have won two F1 titles; 17 have won one
See if Lewis Hamilton can clinch his fourth world championship at the Mexican GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1. Sunday’s race begins at 7pm. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!
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