Mercedes Technical Director James Allison says Hamilton and Schumacher share many similarities, but differ in “fine details”.
Allison worked with seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher during his championship winning years at Ferrari from 2000 until 2004. Having worked with Lewis Hamilton since 2017, the Briton is in a unique position to compare the two greats.
“All the truly great champions probably have more in common than they have differences, in that they are all unusually determined,” Allison said.
“The fact Lewis still cares about winning championships with the same ardour that he had when he was an 18-year-old boy, is what sets him, Michael and the other great champions apart from people who are just really good drivers.
“It feels to me like they all have that inner burning desire that burns more strongly than the rank-and-file F1 drivers, and clearly near the front of the queue when God was handing out physical gifts.
“Then they just differ a little bit in the very, very fine details, which is what makes the parlour game of who was best of all of those guys so much fun.”
However, when it comes to driving skills, Allison says it’s impossible to say who is better.
“Unless they actually run alongside one another in a car, then you can’t properly tell.”
However when comparing Lewis to other drivers, two things stand out for Allison.
“The two things that stand out with Lewis, to my mind, are the statistic which is the pole record – that is a very telling one – and the way in which, over the last several seasons, Lewis has been able to completely master the tyres to the point where he can drive a really fast, really long stint.
“That, probably, shades him ahead of the others.”
When asked how important it is for Mercedes to keep Hamilton beyond 2020, Allison had a little bit of fun.
“He’s reasonably important, I would say. He’s got a few of our points over the years so we’d love him to stay.
“I’m sure if we keep making fast cars, he’ll be keen to drive them,” concluded the Briton.