Damon Hill: “Champions of Lewis and Michael’s level are very rarely born”

© LAT Photographic for Williams F1

1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill talks about what makes drivers like Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton “special”.

After Hamilton equalled Schumacher’s most career wins record, his fellow countryman Damon Hill talked about what makes the two drivers stand out.

“Champions of Lewis and Michael’s level are very rarely born,” wrote Hill in his La Gazzetta dello Sport column

“How do you understand that they are special? The fact that when they arrive in F1, everyone stands up their antennas,” the Briton explains and adds that when drivers of that calibre enter the paddock “a particular excitement arises in the environment”.

“In my case, it didn’t happen… They have something magical. You think they can be beaten but they can’t.

“They are human, of course, but if you don’t have their natural gift you have to find something deep inside you: sometimes you can put them behind you, but not on a consistent basis.

“Because they know how to fish in the reserves of the talent they have, like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in tennis.”

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Damon, who battled Michael Schumacher for the world title in 1994, 1995 and 1996, explains what he sees as the differences between the two drivers.

“When I look at Schumacher, I think, for example, that Senna was faster over one lap. So in qualifying the Brazilian was better, but there it was.

“On the other hand, Schumacher was something special in the race. He was so incredibly consistent, that was really unbelievably good.

“Still, I feel Hamilton is a bit quieter during the race, although it doesn’t always appear that way on the board radio,” jokes Hill.

“All in all, Lewis and Michael are at least two completely different characters. Lewis is a bit more emotional, while Michael never really got to you.

“He was incredibly nice and sympathetic in private spheres, but you could see that he never completely exposed himself,” concluded the Briton.

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