Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher is still the best Formula One driver of all time, despite Lewis Hamilton matching the legend’s record number of world titles earlier this month.
Hamilton sealed his historic seventh title at the Turkish Grand Prix to equal Schumacher’s record with an impressive drive that saw him win the race by 31 seconds after coming back from sixth place.
However, Vettel insists that his compatriot Schumacher is still the greatest of all time, claiming that he unlocked a level of F1 that no one has come close to since.
The German told Motorsport: “I still say that Michael is the best of all time for me.
“When it came down to it, he unlocked a kind of extra level. I have never felt this fascination, this talent in anyone else.”
Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari for Aston Martin next season, has said on previous occasions that Schumacher is his “hero” and that the 51-year-old’s talent and success in the sport came down to his pure natural ability.
“I think he was better than anybody else I’ve ever seen so far,” said Vettel, who won all four of his F1 world titles consecutively between 2010 and 2013. “I think he had a natural talent that is very difficult to explain.
“I saw him go-karting – obviously I didn’t see him at a young age, but I did at an older age – and I was happy to join him in the Race of Champions a couple of times. So, you see a little bit more of the skills and the car control.
“On top of that, he had an incredible work ethic, but I think it’s the combination of the two that for me stands out. I haven’t seen a match yet.”
Schumacher originally retired from F1 in 2006 but briefly returned between 2010 and 2012.
In December 2013, he was involved in a skiing accident while away with his family on holiday in the French Alps. The accident left him in a medically-induced coma with severe brain injuries. His condition remains widely speculated upon with few updates on his recovery.
However, FIA president Jean Todt said last week that Schumacher was “following” son Mick’s Formula 2 career.
Mick is expected to be confirmed as part of Haas’ F1 team for next season in the coming days.