Sebastian Vettel has melted hearts around the F1 world with a beautiful gesture for Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton shed tears of joy on Sunday as he won a record-equalling seventh Formula One world championship in Turkey and became the most successful driver in the sport’s history.
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The Mercedes ace put on a masterclass in wet and slippery conditions to take a record-stretching 94th career win at the Istanbul Park circuit and secure the title with three races to spare.
Ferrari great Michael Schumacher is the only other driver with seven titles to his name, a number once thought unlikely to be matched - but most of the German’s records have passed to Hamilton.
As the Briton pulled into his finishing position, Vettel crouched down and congratulated his rival in a stunning moment of sportsmanship.
As the tributes poured in to mark Hamilton's achievement, Vettel, who was third in Sunday's race, had a personal message for the champion.
“I told him that it's very special for us because we can witness history being made today,” Vettel told reporters when asked what he had told Hamilton after stepping out of the car.
“He is the greatest of our era, for sure. I think it's always difficult to compare (eras) -- how can you possibly compare (Juan Manuel) Fangio and Stirling Moss to our generation? You can't.
“It doesn't matter. I think every era has its driver or drivers and Lewis is the greatest of our era.
“To me, emotionally, Michael will always be the greatest driver but there is no doubt that Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved.
“He has equalled the championships, he has more races won, he has a lot more pole positions.”
The F1 world erupted over Vettel’s touching display with Hamilton.
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) November 15, 2020
The Vettel / Hamilton bromance is so pure.
— Alexandra Phillips (@BrexitAlex) November 15, 2020
— Danny Palmer (@dannyjpalmer) November 15, 2020
Its the shriek! The moment he stayed in the car, wiping down a tear. It's the moment of Vettel going down on a knee to congratulate him.
Hamilton, you can keep your arguments please, is the greatest F1 driver of all time.
What a race, what a man, what a team!!!
— Mujuni Raymond (@qataharraymond) November 15, 2020
— bryson (@Bryson_M) November 15, 2020
Sebastian Vettel was the first person to congratulate an emotional Lewis Hamilton. Who's cutting onions in here ❤️ pic.twitter.com/8OjV0zGmYG
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) November 15, 2020
F1 world celebrates Lewis Hamilton feat
Hamilton smashed Schumacher's record of 91 wins with his 92nd in Portugal last month.
Vettel said Sunday's race, on a wet and slippery track that caught out plenty of drivers, was proof of Hamilton's extraordinary talent.
“Probably if we are honest, it wasn't his race to win and he still won it,” said the German, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the year.
“Once again, he managed to pull something special out of that bag and therefore I think he deserves everything he has achieved.”
Amid a deluge of plaudits on social media, former world champion Nico Rosberg wrote: “7 x World Champion - that's insane! Massively deserved. Surely one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.”
Dario Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner, saluted the winning performance in Istanbul as a “masterclass”.
French driver Romain Grosjean, who retired from the race on lap 52, had expected Schumacher's record to stand the test of time.
He wrote: “Congrats @LewisHamilton. Didn't think Michael record was ever going to be equalize. Very impressive Congrats @MercedesAMGF1 for the incredible work also.”
Beyond the motorsport world, former England soccer striker Gary Lineker hailed Hamilton's display as “stunning”, adding a goat emoji at the end of his tweet.
Britain's Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden posted: “Huge congratulations to @LewisHamilton 7 times @F1 World Champion and won in style #TurkishGP One of our greatest sports stars.”
7 x World Champion – that’s insane! Massively deserved. Surely one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports. Congratulations Lewis and enjoy the celebrations with your family and friends. #TurkishGP #F1
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) November 15, 2020
A masterclass today from @LewisHamilton to win his seventh World championship. So so impressive.
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) November 15, 2020
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) November 15, 2020
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