Lewis Hamilton continued his triumphant march this Sunday afternoon. For the 7th time this season, he climbed to the top step of the podium. In 11 races, that leaves you speechless. Especially since the British driver applied his preferred method: take the lead in the peloton at the start of the Grand Prix and then widen the gap on a powerless pack in the face of such talent and such a powerful car.
Grief spirits will say it wasn’t the most exciting race of the year. We cannot say they are completely wrong. But this routine victory and a tad soporific, Lewis Hamilton turned it into a great moment of sport, a slice of emotion.
As if the story was written by Hollywood with a good dose of glamor, misty eyes and a symbolic gesture – Mick Schumacher giving a helmet from his father – which will be forever remembered.
He will remember this Eifel Grand Prix, Lewis. It is therefore there, a few tens of kilometers from the birthplace of Michael Schumacher, in this legendary Nurburgring, that he equaled the 91 victories of the native child. And on a German car, please.
“Crossing the finish line, I felt like I had won my first F1 victory,” Hamilton confided on arrival. “I was so moved. Frankly, I can’t believe it. I think it will take me a long time to realize. No one, me the first, ever imagined for a moment that Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins would one day be equaled. I was six years old when Michael started in Formula 1. I was already very passionate about this sport. When you see a pilot as exceptional as him at work, he inevitably becomes one of the heroes of your childhood. Me, tall as three apples and cracked in karting, I wanted to imitate him, to be like him while knowing that it was impossible. He made me dream. I remember I identified with Schumi when I was playing on a console. I was nourished by his performances; his exploits, his ultra professional approach to racing have served as a model for me. And now, I am achieving the same number of victories as Michael in the Grand Prix. It’s just amazing. “
There are a lot of similarities between the two careers but also quite a few differences.
Among the common things, there is this overwhelming domination of a man, a machine, a stable. The Schumacher years were marked by the supremacy of Ferrari. At the time, too, it was often said that he ‘killed’ the interest in the sport as he left only the crumbs of the feast to his opponents. But Schumi had landed in a Scuderia in doubt, a field of ruins he had patiently restored with the help of Jean Todt and Ross Brawn.
Lewis Hamilton, who did not have to worry about playing federators, arrived in a Mercedes team which had been steadily improving for a few years. He was the last element – but also the most important – to transform this team into an (almost) invincible machine.
Behind the immense talent of the two men, their almost supernatural way of ‘walking’ on water and their die-hardness, we also notice two radically different personalities.
“The problem with Michael Schumacher is that he was smooth,” a French engineer once told us. “He was not showing his emotions. As soon as the race was over, he only thought of one thing: to dive into a long debriefing with his engineers to try to improve the result during the following Grand Prix. “
We will admit that Lewis Hamilton is much more rock’n’roll. Or more rapper, if you prefer. His tattoos, his jewelry, his very bling bling lifestyle, his involvement in the clothing line he created are all signs of a personality that we rarely see in this sanitized environment. He is also a man with a big heart, a sensitive being who constantly refers to God.