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Hamilton not the greatest says Stewart


For as long as one can remember, F1 fans have argued over who was the greatest driver to grace the sport.

In all honesty it’s a thankless, impossible task for comparing drivers from the various eras is like comparing apples with oranges.

Nonetheless, as Lewis Hamilton stands on the cusp of becoming F1's most successful driver in terms of wins - having already set new records in terms of pole positions and podium appearances, three-time world champion, Jackie Stewart, says that the Briton is not the greatest.

"I don't think that you can account that sort of level of success, just because today there are 20 or 22 races," the Scot tells the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's Fast Lane podcast.

"Juan Manuel Fangio is in my mind the greatest driver that ever lived," he continues, "with Jim Clark the second greatest, even ahead of Senna.

"But those people only raced sometimes six to eight or nine races a year in Formula 1," he adds, "(but) they were driving Sportscars, GT cars... the world championship now, Lewis Hamilton, or any of the other top contenders, are doing 22 races – but only in Formula 1. Not in touring cars, not in GT cars, not in IndyCars, not in Can-Am cars.

"The pressure today is much more relaxed. Of course they go to the factory and do the simulator, but that's not quite the same. It's a different world."

The Scot also points to the fact that Hamilton is driving the best car.

"Lewis drives extremely well, make no mistake. I'm not in any way diminishing his skills. But it's not the same. (Fangio) drove in such a way, it was quite extraordinary – he would choose Ferrari, and then he would think 'well Maserati next year might be good', so he never did more than a one-year contract. And then he drove for Mercedes and won two world championships with them, because they were the best cars in the world at that time.

"Lewis made a very good decision when he left McLaren at that time and went to Mercedes. I take my hat off to him for making that decision. But frankly, the car and the engine are now so superior that it's almost unfair on the rest of the field.

"Now you can't say that, you must take your hat off to Mercedes-Benz, to Toto Wolff and to Niki Lauda for making one hell of a team, for choosing the best engineers, getting the best money that most other teams couldn't get, apart from Red Bull.

"It's not quite the same respect, if you like, of being able to do it in less than the best car. And that's where sometimes there was a difference between the very, very great drivers and the ones that were very successful.

"It's difficult to say that about Lewis, not being as good as Fangio was, in my mind. And a lot of people would find fault in that. But I've been watching motor racing since I was a wee boy. My brother was a racing driver, I was going with him to races and seeing Ascari and Nuvolari and Caracciola and people like that. Some of the best racing drivers in the world, I saw. To say Lewis is the greatest of all time would be difficult for me to justify, in sheer power of what the other drivers were doing.

"I do think I was lucky to drive in my window of time," said the Scot, who won his three titles over the course of an F1 career that lasted 99 races, Stewart walking away from the sport in the hours following his teammate Francois Cevert's death. "We had Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt, my teammate Francois Cevert and a few others that were really top racing drivers, Chris Amon, Jack Brabham. These were top, top racing drivers.

"We don't have that today, that you could identify these people at the very top of their profession. The great thing about my window of time was the Ford Cosworth. Everybody had a Ford Cosworth except for Ferrari. There was a level playing field that simply doesn't exist today."

Of course, Stewart doesn' mention the driver that won in various disciplines but never managed to win the world championship, Stirling Moss.


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1. Posted by DRAGON F1, 13/10/2020 13:17

"Of course, what do you expect from the 'Most Racist Man in F1' according to the first black man to have entered F1!!!

Anyway, apart from simply racism on Jackie Stewart's part, he's entitled to his opinion obviously, but what does it mean and what is the Truth?

The truth is Jackie Stewart is definitely not the greatest F1 driver because he is actually admitting that he could never beat Jim Clarke!!!

Sir Stirling Moss said that he was not as good as Fangio!!!

I don't believe Ayrton Senna was as good as Alan Prost because he had to do a lot of dirty tricks like Michael Schumacher to get on top, such as crashing into Damon Hill in two F1 Championships and so should be excluded from Schumacher's tally!!!

So, as far as I'm concerned that leaves just Fangio, Clarke and Lewis Hamilton as the greatest F1 driver of all time, and since Hamilton has the most legitimate F1 Race Wins and World Titles, LEWIS HAMILTON IS THE UNDISPUTED F1 GOAT ALREADY!!! "

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2. Posted by Ron, 09/10/2020 20:36

"I've been following F1 sense the late 60's, but I've never gotten so invested in any _one_ team or driver. That said, I think you can only judge drivers with who they raced against.

I'll always have a special spot for Jim Clark 🤫"

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3. Posted by GreenFlag, 07/10/2020 22:48

"The best cars get the best drivers and the best drivers get the best cars. Always worked out that way. Hence Mercedes and Hamilton."

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4. Posted by GreenFlag, 07/10/2020 22:45

"A wee jealous, Sir Jackie? Hamilton's name will always be mentioned alongside the other greats - Fangio, Senna, Clark and Schumacher. Stewart was good, but never great."

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5. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 07/10/2020 12:56

"Part of the reason that Mercedes is so dominant today is due to Hamilton. It take a whole organization to design and develop car.

Would they be as successful without Hamilton? Maybe? Without Schumacher, I doubt they would have same success if Hamilton was not on the team."

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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/10/2020 11:43

Hardly the merest hint of criticism....
I unequivocally retract anything I have posted which is distasteful. I am simply unable to find a rational explanation for Stewart's comments

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7. Posted by Editor, 07/10/2020 11:02

"Is this what it has come to?

That even the merest hint of criticism of Lewis is seen as "something more unpleasant"

How dreadfully sad."

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8. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/10/2020 10:47

"@Egalitarian & Bill Hopgood seem to have summarised why JS is wrong to criticise & demean Hamilton's record.

Stewart has frequently been to the fore when Hamilton has been criticised, and with the best will in the world his opinions often seem less than objective. Are they tainted by envy or maybe something more unpleasant?

Lewis has the 'best car' & the 'best team'. So does Bottas, so did Rosberg, Vettel, Schumacher and many others. How many Championships in the Modern Era have been won with a mediocre one? It's also worth pointing out that Hamilton is part of that team & has certainly contributed a lot to it.

Stewart deserves praise for his efforts at improving Safety in F1, but past achievements don't necessarily validate present opinions"

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9. Posted by Egalitarian, 07/10/2020 3:40

"ummm - wasn't Fangio always praised for choosing the best car at the best time? And Stirling Moss notorious for being loyal to others to the detriment of his own career aspirations? I don't know - i think these are stupid things to rate and JYS would serve himself better by saying that these things are impossible to quantify. I don't know why JYS would venture into that idea that he would be equally impressed by drivers as a man in his 80s as he would have been as a child... at least that's what I took from his Nuvolari et al statement.
I reckon @melonfarmer has got this right - JYS might need some attention."

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10. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 06/10/2020 18:14

"These days we can only compare team mates who have the "same" equipment at the same time however even that gets a bit distorted as the team has to take a direction that could suit one driver over another.
Then there is experience and which driver suits certain tracks and how they use the tyres that are available at the time.
So many variables.
So to say one driver is at the top in history is too hard so we'd have to look at generations, but they also cross over, I mean, not all drivers come into the sport at the same time with the same experience and are the same age (we all loose our edge, if we've had an edge, over time).
Two drivers come to mind to compare that kind of started near the same time and finished about the same time such as David Coultard and Michael Shumacher.
Both went to three teams and both had very different careers with the later having the stats to prove it.
There is a ton of "what ifs" in both driver's careers regarding the teams the timing of the teams they chose, particularly if Coultard had stayed a bit longer at Williams and if Fiat had run out of money for Ferrari if it hadn't have turned it's form around.
Sir Jackied is right about team form having such a big sway in how a driver fares.
Ferrari had one particularly bad season in 2005 in the Shumacher reign yet McLaren started to get better in 97, peaking 98, 99, 00. 2001 was going down, 2002 down, 03 average, 04 poor (DC leaves and goes to RB), 05 fast car but didn't win, 06 down again.
On the other hand, Fernando Alonso has proven himself adept at giving other forms of racing a go and doing well so of the current crop, does that make him better than his contemporaries?
Is Hulkenberg better than Perez due to the former's recent performance in the same car as well as have a Le Man win?
Then there is the time in history that driver's raced where the consequences of getting it wrong held a lot more risk than today.
In short, it is too hard to compare yesterday's drivers with today's.
How good is Hamilton compared to the rest? Exceptional, as Bottas knows only too well, and Bottas is no slouch either being able to beat Hamilton now and then."

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11. Posted by Superbird70, 06/10/2020 15:07

"He is pretty much echoing;
These researchers did the same kind of analysis that was explored in other news items about best qualifier earlier this year."

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12. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 06/10/2020 14:51

"Hamilton has at least 3-5 years in him at the top level, maybe more if he wants to stick around. Maybe he'll do some GT or sports car racing within that time too? For sure he'll be the most successful F1 driver of all time.

Best sports car driver of all time? He needs some wins in other formats to take that title."

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13. Posted by Melonfarmer, 06/10/2020 13:23

"Way to go Jackie for keeping your name in the papers. Go on, say something controversial: it's not exactly Bill Grundy and the Sex Pistols is it?

Hamilton has commented before on the antipathy and racism he experienced from the British motor racing "elite"/old guard so why should we be surprised at this? We all know that it's impossible to compare eras so why waste time trying?"

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14. Posted by Greg, 06/10/2020 12:41

"Have to whole heartedly agree with Sir Jackie."

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15. Posted by Lakota, 06/10/2020 12:21

"Well put Mr Stewart"

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