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

  1. Wesley said on 25th January 2008, 21:48

    I wish I could add something that hasn’t been said but…Hamilton is only saying what everyone WANTS him to say.

    I hope Kovalainen shows him a thing or two.

  2. “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.”

    Sounds very much like a Rocky flick…maybe someone should make a viral computer F1 simulation of Schumacher Snr vs Hamilton over a season and broadcast it on youtube. Or let a 15 year old do it with their PC and PS2.

    ….yeah I’ve nothing to add either, I pretty much agree with what everyone else has said.

  3. Number 38 said on 25th January 2008, 22:30

    Nice try Keith, I can clip quotes from other scources also, this from formula1sport:
    Heikki Kovalainen has vowed to make a mark at McLaren despite acknowledging that……… Lewis Hamilton undoubtedly occupies the high ground.
    The CARS may be equal at Mclaren but you’ve got to be blind to think things are “equal” about Hamilton. The point that makes things UN-equal is Hamilton had 10 YEARS of nurturing under the wings of Ron Dennis. He didn’t earn a championship on his own and was ‘given a chance at F1′ like so many others. He was RAISED from birth for this seat, there is no equality between he and others. I have to admit the scheme paid dividends, the plan worked, but was it worth it? There was a lot of excitment early on, rah, rah, England has a new hero but he squandered it after he won his first GP and then the “attitude” set in and then the personal decay and have a read through some of the sites today…….there are few backing him this year. He’s still a good driver, McLaren saw to that and for that we should be thankful but F1 races are really just high speed parades organized by Saturday Q times. I often find myself watching Fisi and Webber and Trulli duke it out for that “last point”. Fortunately most F1 races are shown early Sunday morning here in the USA which allows me to watch the NASCAR race in the afternoon.

  4. Nathan Jones said on 25th January 2008, 22:54

    i think Heikki will b closer to hamilton than alot of ppl think, even hamilton himself, in recent testing, Heikki has been alot faster!

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th January 2008, 22:57

    Do you have a link to the quote where Kovalainen said “Lewis Hamilton undoubtedly occupies the high ground”? I haven’t seen that story.

  6. Lewis is great with the team platitudes, as long as he is the faster driver. Once Heikki beats him to a pole watch the facade drop and the nasty side reemerge. And we’ll hear loads more from Anthony, I’m sure. Can Ron now ban him from the paddock on race weekends?

    As for equal treatment of his drivers, Ron earned exactly what he desired last year, both drivers tied in points, behind a Ferrari! What a dope. He’s crushed my team and I despise him for it.

  7. verasaki said on 25th January 2008, 23:44

    RE: Comment #14- re equal status. Kovi needs to talk to Rubens. That’s exactly the same stance Rubens took when he joined Ferrari and we all fell out laughing then, too. But, what else can they say, right?

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th January 2008, 0:11

    I remember Barrichello saying after Austria ’01 (when he’d let Schumacher through for second) that he’d never be asked to hand over a win, which of course he did the following year. I don’t remember them saying he’d have equal status with Schumacher – there was the famous comment that they had a number 1 and a ‘number 1A’ driver. I am, however, about to delve into a biography of Barrichello, which may have something to say about this!

    I think we’re looking at opposite ends of the spectrum here. With Ferrari you had a situation where (to borrow a phrase off Clive James) even the Portaloo was set up for Michael Schumacher. McLaren under Ron Dennis have historically always tried to have the best two drivers available to them and given them equal equipment – whether it’s Prost and Lauda, Prost and Senna etc…

    I wonder if part of the reason Schumacher never drove for McLaren was that he knew he wouldn’t be able to dictate terms to the second driver?

  9. Are you trying to suggest Barrichello was genuinely a threat to Schumacher’s pace save for a few occassions? I think it’s ridiculous to say Schumacher didn’t allow his team-mates to have equal status within the team. When one of your drivers is almost always better than the other, the human inside every team will start accepting that driver as their star driver. You can’t question. Schumacher had a massive advantage in terms of race craft and he made use of it. And, Schumacher’s job was to race and not to go in search of his equals and put him beside his car. Schumacher’s era was noticebaly different from Lauda’s, Senna’s era. There were a group of drivers who were always, consistently a match for each other. And this wasn’t a case in Schumacher’s era.

  10. Michael K said on 26th January 2008, 12:20

    A very easy explanation why Ferrari would always prefer Schumi and Hamilton will always get preferential treatment if there is a choice between him and Kovalainen: Money
    What happens if Kovalainen beats Hamilton or would even become World Champion? Do you think he will be happy with earning considerably less than “nice boy” Lewis? The same would’ve been true for Rubens even though I think he would never have beaten Schumi over a whole season even if they would’ve been equal.
    Now that Lewis is signed on to a massive deal that is running for years I don’t think McLaren could afford to have another driver with a similar wage for as long as that deal runs. The same obviously was true for Schumi’s rather “extravagant” salary.
    Of course McLaren would rather have Kovalainen win than a competitor, but as long as there is a choice that McLaren can make they will always go for Hamilton.
    And for Kovalainen going on about equality etc., he knows, Hamilton knows, McLaren knows, what is he supposed to say? He will try and make the best out of this situation so he can go for it if Lewis fails or move onto another team at some point and become the #1 there.

  11. Steven Roy said on 26th January 2008, 14:36

    I think a lot of people here have short memories. McLaren will give Kovalainen equal treatment. No-one will be happier than Ron Dennis if Heikki turns out to be quicker than Lewis.

    Think back about 20 years. McLaren was a Prost team. The whole team was wrapped round him and a lot of people though Ron was in Prost’s pocket. Prost like Lewis was afraid of no-one and agreed to Senna being signed. There were people then saying that Senna wouldn’t be allowed to go faster because Prost was the highest earning driver in the sport and McLaren was really team Prost. Senna turned up and turned the whole situation around. I can’t see Heikki beating Lewis over a season but I think they will be very close.

    Ron Dennis like Frank Williams is interested in his team winning and really doesn’t care who is driving. Yes he has been very close to some of his drivers but if someone faster like Senna turns up the allegiance will switch.

    I can’t believe people are suggesting that Ron/McLaren are going to indulge in a Lewis Hamilton personality cult similar to the Schumacher/Ferrari situation. Ron’s entire history suggests the opposite.

    Stop believing the gossip and look at the reality.

  12. Journeyer said on 26th January 2008, 16:32

    Here’s what I think: Heikki is like DC. He’s quick most of the time, but he lacks the title instinct. Lewis is like Hakkinen. He will have off-days, but when the win is there for the taking, he’ll be taking it more often than Heikki. He is developing that very title instinct after being involved in the title battle last year. He won’t make the same mistakes twice.

    Ron will provide them equal equipment, no doubt. But something just tells me that Lewis will beat Heikki nonetheless. Heikki NEEDS to make a good impression in his first Macca drives/tests, but Lewis doesn’t need to anymore. He knows how good he is (WE know how good he is) and he doesn’t need to tell the world about it by trying to beat Heikki (esp. if they’re on different test programs).

    As for Michael, his job was to win titles. It would have been better if he had better teammates in his car, but we should NEVER take anything away from what Michael has done. A look at McLaren circa 2007 may prove Ferrari took the safer route.

  13. “Stop believing the gossip and look at the reality.”

    I base my comments on the reaction of Hamilton last year. Granted, he was against a self centered 2 time world champ, so some of his comments/actions may have been justified. And we have other former McLaren driver’s comments about Ron’s subtle favoring of drivers.

    No doubt both cars will be equally prepared, but there are other ways to bestow advantages during qualifying and the race.

    He needs to drop the facade of equal treatment and give Lewis a clear shot at winning the title, regardless of personality conflicts.

  14. Michael K said on 28th January 2008, 9:29

    “Stop believing the gossip and look at the reality”

    That’s exactly what I’m doing, have a look what the guys earned back in the days, overall team costs etc. and what it costs now.

    “I can’t believe people are suggesting that Ron/McLaren are going to indulge in a Lewis Hamilton personality cult similar to the Schumacher/Ferrari situation”

    I can’t believe you missed Ron signing Senor Hamilton’s new contract, effectively signing on to exactly the same personality cult. He certainly put his money where his mouth is…

  15. Steven Roy said on 28th January 2008, 13:05

    If I understand what Michael K is saying correctly because there is a lot more money around now if Heikki is faster than Lewis they will hold him back. Where is the logic in that? If it was logical for McLaren to have a number one and number two driver would it not have been equally sensible last season or has something changed fundamentally in two months? Ron has always given drivers equal equipment. The only reason for marginal advantage to one driver is because we have Max’s chess version of F1 where pit stops and strategy have replaced racing.

    Ron signed Lewis’s new contract to hang on to the best driver available to him. It’s not because he is going to let Lewis run the team the way Michael run Ferrari. Top drivers have always had contracts renewed early to stop them signing for other teams. Same happens in football and every other sport. Bear in mind we have no idea what Lewis’s bonus payments were last season so there may not be that much of an increase. I don’t believe for a second that Ron thought he would score over a 100 points and $100,000 a point is not out of the question because that was what Nelson Piquet was paid by Benetton in the early 90s. It cost them a lot more than they expected to pay as well.

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