LONDON — Michael Schumacher on Monday said his record feat of seven Formula One world championships is there for the breaking – and that Lewis Hamilton was in pole position to do it.
That’s just the boost the British McLaren driver, who holds a seven-point lead over only remaining rival Felipe Massa, will appreciate going into this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the final race of the season. Asked if he thought Hamilton could beat his record, the German told the BBC’s Inside Sport program: “I would say, absolutely, yes. “Nobody thought, even me, that I could beat (Juan Manuel) Fangio. Then I did. Records are there to be beaten”.
Schumacher claimed his seventh world title in 2004 to better Argentinean Fangio’s previous best of five championship titles. “I’m quite relaxed that one day it will happen – whether it’s Lewis, whether it’s Massa, or whoever,” the 39-year-old said of his feat. “It might be someone of the current or of the future that could or will do it. But I’ve got no problem about it.” After winning his first championship in 1994, Schumacher dominated the decade, often lighting up circuits with his epic tussles with Mika Hakkinen. His last race was in 2006 on the same circuit as Sunday’s big showdown.
The German said that he was impressed with Hamilton’s form since exploding onto the scene at the Australian GP last year. “When you think about what he has done in such a short time – just arriving and competing last year with (two-time world champion Fernando) Alonso and being very often quicker – that talks for itself.” Sunday’s race could see Hamilton become the youngest champion in F1 history, and the McLaren driver only needs a top five finish to guarantee the title – regardless of where Massa places. “Is he the best? Is he not the best? Is he better than Felipe Massa or not,” said Schumacher of Hamilton.
“You look at the circumstances: it is not always very straightforward or clear to understand from the outside.”