If only Michael Schumacher had said this

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 launch, 2008 | DaimlerLewis Hamilton has given some interesting quotes to the press. What would I have given to hear Michael Schumacher say something like this a few years ago:

I just like fairness and I want Heikki Kovalainen to have the exact same opportunities and if he does and I beat him, there’s the reward. I beat him on same tyres, same engine and knowing all that, you just know you’re a better driver. I don’t want any advantage, any head start.

Imagine if this had been Schumacher’s attitude at Ferrari. I doubt Rubens Barrichello would have taken the fight to him that often, but we might have had a few more interesting races during the turgidly awful seasons of 2001, 2002 and 2004.

There will inevitably be people who claim that Hamilton isn’t being sincere and I probably can’t convince them they’re wrong. Others might call it a classic example of the ‘British sense of fair play’ – but I think that’s a load of nationalistic hogwash.

This is a simple statement made by a confident driver who is genuinely convinced of his superiority. For all of Michael Schumacher’s daunting and awesome achievements in Formula 1, during the majority of his career he was partnered by drivers who were number two in terms of both status within the team and ability.

It’s also a remark Hamilton has aimed squarely at his former team mate Fernando Alonso, who clearly does not share the same philosophy.

This criticism of Schumacher’s career is surely not lost on Hamilton. He doesn’t want to be world champion just by having the best car – he wants to beat the best drivers in the same cars as well. Like Alain Prost did. Like Niki Lauda did. And like his hero Ayrton Senna did.

And I think that’s admirable.

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37 comments on If only Michael Schumacher had said this

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  1. I don’t believe Hamilton.
    He proved in Hungary last year he doesn’t want fairness, he wants every advantage going.

  2. Nikos Darzentas said on 25th January 2008, 16:09

    exactly… Hamilton showed this year that the competitiveness inside him can take over, which is actually what is gonna make him a (multiple) world champion

    statements like these are only made to nurture his nice-guy image, nothing more

  3. Michael K said on 25th January 2008, 16:23

    I can only agree with the above comments, saying it is one thing, especially as he has shown last year already how “bitchy” he can be. At least Schumi never went on a PR campaign saying how nice and fair he was.

  4. Peter said on 25th January 2008, 16:35

    Here is what Hamilton said after the qualifying in Hungary:
    “When you don’t obey a team order from your team boss, who has given you the opportunity. It’s a difficult situation, but in the end you have to stand up for what you believe and how you feel. At the time I took that decision and that’s just the way it went.”

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th January 2008, 16:54

    So does everyone expect Hamilton to get preferential treatment over Kovalainen this year?

  6. Maybe if Kovalainen beats Hamilton in equal cars he will “stand up for what (he) believes and how (he) feels” and demand a better car, before telling the press that he’s just a normal guy. WHO RACES F1 CARS.

  7. frecon said on 25th January 2008, 17:43

    He also said about Alonso: “He showed me just how not to behave as an F1 driver”

    And 15 days before he said that Alonso is an excellent driver, and he learnt a lot from him last year.

    Maybe he forgot to take his medication for bipolar disorder.

  8. Daniel said on 25th January 2008, 18:05

    Every little thing Hamilton says or forgets to say will be closely watched for his entire career, so probably we’ll find as many contradictions as we would find in our own declarations at work, or at home, that simply weren’t noticed by anyone, because we are not world-wide celebrities…

    As for the equal treatment stuff, I think Hamilton already showed he’ll do what ever it takes, on the track, the beat his team-mate, disobeying team orders included… but I think he’s vain and self-confident to the point that he won’t demand the best car…

    He’ll ask for equal treatment also because he wants to get rid of Ron Dennis protege’s image.

  9. frecon said on 25th January 2008, 18:08

    One more thing. I know it’s just tests, but last week in Cheste’s test:

    Day 3:

    Pos. Driver Time
    1. Kovalainen 1.11.000
    2. Massa 1.11.662
    3. Räikkönen 1.11.850
    4. Hamilton 1.12.076
    5. Nakajima 1.12.255
    6. Alonso 1.12.360

    Day 4:

    Pos. Driver Time
    1. Räikkönen 1.11.189
    2. Kovalainen 1.11.206
    3. Massa 1.11.831
    4. Nakajima 1.11.971
    5. Hamilton 1.11.994
    6. Kubica 1.12.095

    Kovalainen was faster both days, and Heiki broke the record of the circuit on day 3. It’s funny he said he wants equality the day after his new team-mate had driven d¡faster and with less mistakes.

  10. “He’ll ask for equal treatment also because he wants to get rid of Ron Dennis protege’s image.”

    methinks he has another image to lose first:



  11. AJ14Foyt said on 25th January 2008, 18:54

    Frankly, I think young Mr. Hamilton is in for a rude awakening this year. Not only do I expect Kovalainen to be extremely competitive, but I also suspect the other drivers to be keenly aware of his racing antics. I predict the sophomore jinx to hit in a major way.

  12. Steven Roy said on 25th January 2008, 20:25

    I think he is an incredibly confident driver who wants to prove he is the best by beating people on equal terms. Clearly after matching Alonso with no experience he is afraid of no-one. That doesn’t mean he is not going to push the team to give him strategical advantage. Unfortunately one of the problems with current F1 is that two drivers can never be truely equal because we have to put up with stupid, pointless pit stops.

    I think the remark is sincere but I have no doubt it is also intended to wind up Alonso. That is normal competitiveness. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is trying to rile Schumacher into a comeback because he made the point last season that he had spent his career hoping to race Schumacher and he reached F1 just as Michael retired.

  13. Number 38 said on 25th January 2008, 20:53

    The honeymoon is OVER! Wow! A real pounding on Hammy and similar comments on fomula1sport.
    Frankly I don’t know where this “equality” business came from. Hamilton has been McLaren ‘family’ for years and years, Alonso was an orphan taken in off the street. I suspect most of the rancor last year was Alonso EXPECTING #1 treatment, which he didn’t get and things will be civil this year as Kova ACCEPTS #2 status and that’s what he will get! Kova is off to a good start, I just hope he hasn’t been set-up !!!!!!!

  14. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th January 2008, 21:06

    When did Kovalainen “accept number two status?” Here’s Kovalainen on his position at McLaren this year:

    One thing I wanted to establish before signing was that I’d be treated equally. I think we can fight on the track as much as we can but off the track we can laugh about it.

    I think in the past McLaren have treated drivers equally – including this year. I don’t think it will be a problem at all. We won’t have any problems – I think we can help the team go forward.


    And again at the car launch:

    I would not have come to a team if I did not think I had an equal chance to fight for the championship. With McLaren, I have that.

    You do not know how the season is going to go, but at least to start with I have exactly the same opportunity as Lewis has, and it is up to me to build a relationship with the team and to make it as strong as I can. And we will see what happens.


    Absolutely, I have equal treatment


  15. Nico Savidge said on 25th January 2008, 21:31

    “a load of nationalistic hogwash” – or, as I call it, ITV’s F1 coverage

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