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Lewis Hamilton vs. Michael Schumacher: Who’s the Better F1 Driver?

Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have one big thing in common: At one time or another, both have been on top of the Formula One racing mountain. But the paths they took to get there are wildly different. Each driver has his own strengths and weaknesses. But which one is better?

It’s a difficult question to answer because they were dominant in different eras. Hamilton and Schumacher’s careers feature little overlap. Let’s take a look at both driver’s careers and try to definitively answer who’s the superior F1 driver. 

Lewis Hamilton’s racing career

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According to Britannica.com, Hamilton’s story began at the age of eight, when he first started racing karts. He won his first championship at 10. And he kept winning from there. He moved from karts to cars soon after that. In 2003, Hamilton won the British Formula Renault series. He won the Formula Three Euroseries championship in 2005.

In 2006, Hamilton moved up to Grand Prix 2, a circuit that essentially served as an F1 minor league. In his only year at that level, he won the championship. By 2007, Hamilton was a good enough driver to join the famed McLaren F1 team. In only his second year at that level, he won his first championship at the age of 23. He won his second in 2014.

By 2019, Hamilton had earned six titles. His sixth championship placed him in rare company. It put him only one behind another one of the greatest drivers of all time, Schumacher. But how great was Schumacher, exactly? 

Michael Schumacher’s racing career

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Schumacher retired in 2012, but before that, he left quite a legacy on the track. According to Hello Magazine, Schumacher’s debuted in 1991 and won his first Grand Prix only a year later. Initially, he drove for the Benetton team. He left Benetton for Ferrari in 1995. It was a perfect match — the world’s best driver with one of the world’s most enduring auto brands.

Schumacher went on to win seven world championships, including five in a row. He retired in 2006, but it was short-lived as he’d return a few seasons later. One of Schumacher’s peers, Jacques Villeneuve summed up Schumacher best: “He has set an amazing standard which we all have to try to follow. I cannot imagine a harder challenge.”

So was Hamilton able to follow in his shoes successfully? Here’s how the two compare. 

Hamilton vs. Schumacher: Who is better? 

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton talks with Michael Schumacher in 2012 | Clive Mason/Getty Images

When it comes to championships, Schumacher has Hamilton beat … for now. He has seven to Hamilton’s six. Of course, Hamilton isn’t done racing. He will likely surpass Schumacher before his career is said and done. 

AutoSports created profiles for some of the greatest drivers of all time. While profiling Schumacher, they noted his “controversial” driving style. Schumacher’s case as the best driver ever is substantial. He possesses the most wins of all time, the most titles, and the fastest lap. He also has the most consecutive titles, winning every year from 2000-2004. 

Hamilton, on the other hand, has been something of a prodigy. He was the youngest driver to ever win a title. Over the last decade, Hamilton has been nearly impossible to defeat. While it’s true that Schumacher is ahead of him in overall wins and championships, the night is young. Hamilton has plenty of time to catch him due to his early start. 

So who’s the greatest? Right now, you’d have to give the nod to the all-time leader: Schumacher. Hamilton’s run is far from over, however, and the odds are high that he’ll pass him at some point. Schumacher’s crown isn’t safe while Hamilton continues to dominate F1 with no signs of slowing.