Lewis Hamilton’s ‘greatest ever driver’ label challenged: ‘Isn’t the same!’

F1: Hamilton ‘shouldn’t be complaining’ says Ecclestone

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Lewis Hamilton will receive a knighthood at Windsor Castle today as the fallout from Sunday’s controversial Formula 1 finale rages on. Mercedes have until Thursday evening to decide whether or not they will follow through with their plans to dispute the handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Max Verstappen pipped his British rival to win the Drivers’ Championship in dramatic style.

FIA race director Michael Masi allowed the five lapped cars sitting between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves while the safety car was out, and Verstappen reaped the rewards.

With much fresher tyres, the Dutchman passed Hamilton on the final lap.

Fans were furious at the decision. Piers Morgan tweeted: “Lewis Hamilton was robbed by rule-bending officials who wanted to give us all a great dramatic TV moment. 

“That’s not sport.”

Hamilton’s new F1 team-mate for next season George Russell also vented his anger, tweeting: “What just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.”

Verstappen’s win meant Hamilton did not break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ titles.

Although Hamilton has levelled Schumacher’s record, holds the record for the most wins (103), pole positions (103) and podium finishes (182), debate still remains as to whether he is the greatest F1 driver of all time.

Speaking on the In The Fast Lane podcast last year, three-time Drivers’ Championship winner Sir Jackie Stewart said Hamilton’s achievements are almost impossible to compare to his counterparts in years gone by.

Stewart, 82, said: “I don’t think you can account [for] that sort of level of success.

“Just because today there are 20, 22 races, whereas in the old days when, for example Juan Maneul Fangio, raced maybe sometimes six, eight or nine races a year in Formula 1.

“To say that Lewis is the greatest driver of all time would be difficult for me to justify, in the sheer power of what the other drivers were doing.

“Lewis drives extremely well, make no mistake, I’m not in any way diminishing his skills, but it isn’t the same.”

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He continued: “Lewis made a very good decision when he left McLaren at that time and went to Mercedes-Benz. And 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.”

When asked to name his top three, Hamilton did not make the cut, largely due to difficulties comparing modern-day F1 with the past.

Stewart said: “Juan Manuel Fangio, in my mind, is the greatest driver that’s ever lived.

“With Jim Clark as the second-greatest, even ahead of [Aryton] Senna.”

Fangio dominated the first decade of F1 racing, winning the Drivers’ Championship five times.

The Argentine held the record for the most Drivers’ Championship wins for 46 years until it was beaten by Schumacher.

Of the 52 F1 races he entered, he won 24 of them, boasting a staggering 46.15 percent win rate.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff was asked prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix whether Hamilton could be considered F1’s GOAT and he refused to make the comparison.

He said: “Nobody will ever be greater than Schumi.

“Even if the statistics show Lewis at the front… Michael shaped a generation like no other.

“He is iconic. You cannot make comparisons across generations.

“Lewis is the greatest of his generation.”

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