Sir Jackie Stewart created an uproar when he said it was “difficult to say” if Lewis Hamilton was the GOAT. Looking back, Stewart was saying the same things about Michael Schumacher.
In a recent interview three-time F1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart was asked about his thoughts on who the greatest of all time in Formula 1 was. He didn’t put Lewis Hamilton on his top three list and said the Briton’s car and engine are now “so superior that it’s almost unfair on the rest of the field”.
Stewart went on to praise five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio and two-time champion Jim Clark, saying accomplishments are hard to compare between different eras.
Many believe Hamilton’s recent statement that “older drivers” continuously knock him and appear to “still have a bee in their bonnet”, was aimed directly at Stewart.
This prompted Sir Jackie to respond saying he is “not trying to diminish Lewis Hamilton”, but he again reiterated that you “simply cannot say” if Hamilton is better than the legends of the past.
Well we went to the past and dug up an old 2012 BBC Sport interview with Stewart, where he said some remarkably similar things about Michael Schumacher.
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“His record will, I think, remain unbroken forever,” Stewart said when talking about Michael’s impending retirement.
“He’s one of the greatest drivers of all time, although it’s not possible to say he’s the greatest.
“The number of Grand Prix he’s driven are considerably more than anyone else. Juan Manuel Fangio didn’t come to Europe to race until he was 39, yet won five world championships. His ratio of wins to races was extraordinarily good.
“Jim Clark likewise. Myself, I only raced in 99 Grand Prix races, but won 27. Although that’s nothing like the 91 that Michael has won, the average was good.
“Michael’s record in F1, particularly his Ferrari period, was so dominant because the car and engine was unquestionably the best on the grid and there was no doubt about who was number one and got most attention in the team,” concluded Sir Jackie.
As you can see, Stewart’s reasoning for not acknowledging Schumacher as the greatest driver ever was remarkably similar to what he said about Lewis. He even mentions the ‘dominant car’ and Schumacher’s number 1 status at Ferrari.
Taking this into account, Stewart’s words can be interpreted as a reflection of his nostalgic views and his love for the era that he watched growing up and the era that he participated in.
Although Stewart could certainly have a bias against Hamilton, these comments show that his views on the greats from the past haven’t changed in the last decade.