“Lewis is the greatest driver of all time, would be difficult for me”- Jackie Stewart on comparison with greatest F1 drivers of previous generations.
Lewis Hamilton has marked a great legacy in the history of Formula 1 by winning six World Championship titles, and now he is on the verge to bag the 7th.
But Jackie Stewart still believes that Hamilton being a talented driver still doesn’t match the ability of greats from the previous generation, as the better technology has assisted in eclipsing the archaic moments of the sport.
Speaking to the official Australian Grand Prix podcast, he pointed to the differences in the championship’s structure and priorities of drivers across the various eras.
“[Juan Manuel] Fangio in my mind is the greatest driver that’s ever lived, with Jim Clark as the second greatest even ahead of [Ayrton] Senna,” said Stewart.
“Those people only raced sometimes maybe six or eight races a year in Formula 1; they were driving sportscars, GTs etc.
“But the world championship now, Lewis or any of the other top contenders today are doing 22 or 21 races, but only in Formula 1, not in touring cars, GT cars, IndyCar or Can-Am, you can’t really compare.
“One year, I was driving around the world like an idiot, I went across the Atlantic 86 times, to drive and do business there as well as in the UK.
“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. 86 [flights] across the Atlantic, 27 with Concorde, it’s a different world, it’s not the same playing ground.”
Correct to leave McLaren for Mercedes
Stewart has further praised Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes as the results today show the reason why it was a correct decision.
“Lewis made an excellent decision, and I take my hat off to him for that,” he said. “But frankly, the car and the engine are now so superior 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.
“Therefore it’s not quite the same respect if you like, of being able to do it in the less than the best car. And that’s where sometimes there’s the difference [is] between the very, very great drivers and the very successful ones.
“It’s difficult to say that about Lewis, not being as good as saying Fangio was in my mind, and a lot of people would find fault in that.
“I’ve been watching motor-racing for a long time. I was seeing [Alberto] Ascari, [Tazio] Nuvolari, [Rudolf] Caracciola.
“Some of the best racing drivers in the world I saw, Sir Stirling Moss was one of them, and he never won a world championship as he never had the right cars.
“It’s difficult to put that in proper terms, although beating Michael Schumacher is a big thing for him [Hamilton].” he further added.
“To say that Lewis is the greatest driver of all time, would be difficult for me to justify if you understand me, is the sheer power of what the other drivers were doing.”