Hamilton: ‘Older drivers have a bee in their bonnet about me – maybe one day they ‘ll get over it’

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he won’t speak about the next generation of drivers the same way he feels past Formula 1 stars have criticised him.

On Sunday he joined Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1 in terms of race wins. Speaking afterwards, Hamilton said he still “gets knocked by many people, particularly older drivers.”

“They still have a bee in their bonnet,” said Hamilton. “I don’t know why. Maybe one day they’ll get over it.

“But I have so much respect for the past legends, even those that do continue to talk negatively about me all the time. I still hold them in high regard because I know it was so difficult, a different time in history. It was incredibly tough for them. And they remain the legends that they were then.”

Last week Jackie Stewart, a three-times world champion and former holder of the record for most Formula 1 victories, said it was “hard to justify” calling Hamilton the greatest driver ever because his Mercedes team are so dominant.

Hamilton, who scored his record-equalling 91st career win on Sunday, said it is difficult to define ultimate greatness in any sport.

“There’s a lot of talk in all sports about ‘greatest past and present’,” he said. “I think it’s almost impossible to compare people. I just think it’s different times. We are evolving as human beings.

“If you put us all the top drivers that have been the most successful in the sport and put them in the same season and in the same cars, wouldn’t that be something?

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“There’s all this talk of ‘who is’ and ‘who is not’ and it’s not important to me. What’s important is the journey and this time. While I’ve been here I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do, have navigated through. I’ve definitely made lots of mistakes but that’s life. We all do that.

“Yes, you can be definitely remembered for having the most [wins] and that will definitely be something special to have. But as I said, it’s the journey, it’s what we’ve done along the way. It’s things like the obstacles you faced. Everyone’s got a different journey and a different way of doing things and I don’t think you should knock anybody for the way they do things.”

Hamilton promised not to criticise anyone who may rival his records in the future.

“In 20 years’ time, whatever it is, when I’m looking back, I can promise you this: I will not be talking down any young driver that’s coming through and succeeding.

“Because our responsibility, I think, as an older driver, is to shine the light as bright as possible and encourage those. There’s going to be someone else, whether it’s Max [Verstappen] or whoever it may be, who’s going to be chasing the record that I eventually set.

“It’s the wrong kind of characteristic and approach to be hoping he doesn’t break it. You should be encouraging them, hoping they to their full potential. And if that means them getting to that record, that’s amazing.”

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2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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99 comments on “Hamilton: ‘Older drivers have a bee in their bonnet about me – maybe one day they ‘ll get over it’”

  1. Maybe one day F1 will be remembered as rich people’s plaything that made a mockery of sporting competition via money and technology. You will get over ‘F1’ Lewis.

    1. The night nomad
      12th October 2020, 18:16

      Lol F1 was always an elitist’s sport. It began with rich aristocratic gentlemen racers. If you want motorsports with grass roots beginnings, go watch NASCAR.

    2. Is Lewis Hamilton the best? Well, are his main rivals fighting with the same equipment? No. So when they were, how did he do? Well we have to go back to 2013 and the years before that when Hamilton was driving cars of roughly equal pace to his main rivals – Alonso, Button, Webber and Vettel. Well, in those year’s Hamilton finished no higher than 4th in the WDC. And that’s ALL you need to know. Hamilton without Mercedes = 1 X WDC. This is simply a fact.

      1. Nothing has been has never been equal in F1… in 2013..
        Ok in 2012 McLaren finished 3rd and Mercedes finished 5th….
        Lewis left and Joined Mercedes in 2013
        McLaren finished 5th and Mercedes finished 2nd …..

        Nuff Said..

        1. I’m not sure Hamilton would have only won one WDC but highly unlikely he’d have more than 3.
          The older drivers know talent as they have experienced F1. They are more than likely correct.
          For Hamilton to insinuate they don’t like him as the reason is childish.
          The thing is, when a driver has a car as great as the Merc and little competition, his true talent cannot be measured.

  2. Lewis is inevitably going to beat Schummy record by some margin. Twenty years from now maybe we get three races a weekend with 30 event a year and someone beat Lewis record in just in two years driving a dominance car. Seb could be the biggest Lewis records defender by then.

  3. What a mature gracious person

  4. Lewis Hamilton has a good heart

  5. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    12th October 2020, 18:33

    Well said by Lewis there. Jackie still trying to be relevant because he can’t strut at race weekends. Legendary driver but he’s had a problem with Lewis his entire career. Mansell was much more supportive. Also well said by Lewis was not comparing drivers of different eras, because it’s not possible.

    1. Yeah, but the thing Jackie forgot is that he isn’t on that list, either. No matter how special he thinks he is.
      And I rooted for him when he was driving. It’s too bad his alligator mouth ran over his rabbit fanny just like Rosberg. who was too chicken to defend his fraudulent title because he knew he couldn’t beat Hamilton again.

      1. to defend his fraudulent title

        you lost every inch of credibility with this remark.

        1. I’m not sure there was much left to lose after “rabbit fanny”.

          1. @oweng I’m kind of in agreement with @iceblue, but that made me laugh out loud.

        2. geoffgroom44 (@)
          13th October 2020, 10:00

          perhasps it would be wise of us to defer judgement until history gives us the full facts about the ‘strange oil failure’ that demolished Lewis’s engine that season, huh?

      2. You rooted for Jackie Stewart when he was racing? No offence but your comments don’t suggest that you’re that old!

    2. Spot on mate

  6. He’s obviously right there’s no way to know who is GOAT. There’s just a collection of drivers who are in the conversation, and that’s as far as it will ever get.

    One thing I would like to see is putting current drivers in some of the past cars of previous greats, and have them drive on tracks those cars raced round (that haven’t changed since when they were originally raced – if any exist?). Then see how their times on hot-laps would compare once they’ve had a bit of practice in those cars.

    Not as a scientific exercise to compare greatness, since it still wouldn’t prove anything, but just to see if they could match or better those from previous eras in at least one aspect.

    1. Simon – Do you think a, for example, 50 year-old racing car could be made to perform as well today as it did when new and set up and operated by people who knew all of its ins and outs?

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      12th October 2020, 21:10

      Recently, Alain Prost talked about chatting with Max Verstappen. Prost said that at 18 years old, Max knew all the tricks of the business, something that Prost himself would learn much later in his career.
      Prost didn’t start karting every weekend since 3 years old like Max did.

      I’m pretty sure that modern drivers would beat old drivers lap times. Yet, you can’t compare because it’s not fair.

      Since Senna, every super champion must start karting since 3 or 5 years old. Since Lauda, every super champion must be highly analytical – no more Hunts or Villeneuves. Since Schumacher, every super champion must be Schumacher-like. Hamilton fits all this. Less titles in underdog cars, but also less cheating and with harder intra team competition.

    3. @simon999 Unfortunately that can never happen because those older generation cars are incredibly unsafe. Even if they modified the circuits and had modern levels of run-off and safety barriers the cars themselves are too dangerous and any accident could result in serious injury or worse. So like for like comparisons will never be possible.

      Even if you could, it wouldn’t mean much tbh. I’d expect the current generation to have massive advantages because they’ve been karting from a very young age, and probably have more racing experience by the time they’re 20 than some previous generations had in their entire careers. Also training, fitness, nutrition and coaching have all moved on massively allowing current drivers to get much closer to their ultimate potential. The likes of Fangio, Moss, Ascari etc probably barely considered some of these things, unlike the finely tuned athletes of today.

  7. Nicely said Lewis.

    I detest the entire GOAT nonsense.
    Every driver is a product of their times.
    I could say negative things about every WDC there has been since I started watching F1 back in the 70’s but every single one of them has genuinely risked their lives to win.

    There is not and never will be a GOAT. Just Champions.

    1. Montréalais (@)
      13th October 2020, 2:38

      @nullapax definitely +1

      1. @nullapax Yeah well said. We do know for sure that GOAT is subjective and there are many varied opinions amongst fans based on many varied experiences of fandom throughout the years and the chapters to F1.

        What I do think is that if there is a GOAT it is someone from the past who, as LH points out, had it so difficult and raced in much tougher times. That’s the overwhelming one for me. Are the current drivers really performing great feats compared to drivers in the past who were in much less safe cars and who had to do so much more race management on their own, just them and the car once they left the pits?

        LH is among the greats, that goes without saying, and the numbers ensure that. But of course numbers don’t tell the whole story, and I consider the feats they achieved physically and psychologically in the past. And I’m pretty sure that’s all the ‘older drivers with a bee in their bonnet’ are saying too. Today’s drivers are far more coddled, helped far more to manage their races, are far safer and therefore have far less playing on their minds psychologically. I’m not blaming the likes of LH for that, as he is just racing in the era he was born into, but wrt these older drivers I do think it is understandable that they can appreciate and respect a current driver while also highlighting how it used to be. It seems Jackie Stewart is the main older driver we are speaking of, and everything I have read of his comments about LH show that he does respect his talent and his achievements. He just wants to remind everyone of how it was, which is what caused him to be known as the F1 safety guru and pioneer that he was, from seeing too many friends die at the wheel.

  8. Free advice for Lewis: being crass and disrespectful is not smart. These older drivers might just do better than you in the car you’ve got.

    1. Sorry did I miss something? How is he being crass and disrespectful?

      1. Hamilton is just being passive aggressive here. It’s something but not much. Same goes for Stewart’s comments. Something but not much.

        1. Ofcourse Lewis realises his tally is not representing his skills, which are huge by the way. 4 WDC would be more realistic. His margin on team mates just isnt making him the greatest, but certainly one of the best.

          1. Actually, Mayrton, 8 WDC would most likely represent Hamilton’s skills. Probably Schumacher’s too.

          2. E.K.Sanderson
            13th October 2020, 16:16

            yes !!

    2. Also bold of you to assume that he gives a hoot about whether “These Older Drivers” can do better in his car

      Fact is they most likely will never get the opportunity and this particular driver seems to obsess over decrying Lewis for God knows whatever reason. Its so tiring

    3. I’ll show you crass @Rodber.
      They’ll be dead soon Lewis don’t worry yourself about it.

    4. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
      12th October 2020, 22:32

      I really doubt that Rodber.

      For one, Jackie Stewart is 81; putting him in an F1 car is sending him to an early grave.

  9. you know Jackie stewart
    (Note I don’t confer him any respect by also calling him “Sir”) is a very bitter and frustrated man who is consumed with INSANE jealousy over Hamilton surpassing all the records of the greats that Stewart raced against. He always trys so OSCAR WINNING hard to discredit Hamilton’s achievements in any interview he gives when asked what he thinks about Hamilton.

    He usually puts Hamilton’s success down to his car, as if the car drives by itself. He never mentions the fact that Fangio, Michael Cheatmarcher, Clark, Vettel and Prost all won their title with dominant fast cars.

    Stewart is very careful not to mention this to the public. But when it comes to a brilliant mixed race guy called Hamilton of course he mentions the fast car. I wonder why he persecutes Hamilton so much above other drivers?

    1. Yes I’m suspicious too. Of course Lewis turned down the supercilious offer to be coached about driving smoove, made it worse.

    2. I think you should listen to the podcast referred to in the article. Stewart had plenty of nice things to say about Lewis. And as for respect, you realise F1 still exists pretty much due to his unpopular push to improve safety after he nearly died in a crash?

      1. @tommy-c
        Jackie is like a clueless blacksmith… he thinks heating up iron, and beating it as hard as he can, while occasionally cooling it down, he thinks he is beating/punishing the iron… only thing is that he doesnt know he is making it ever more stronger… :) he still doesnt get it…

    3. Not to forget that according to Mercedes heads, it’s Hamilton’s motivation and input that helps the car be as good as it is. So the fact that the car is so fast and the team so motivated is actually a result of them Having Hamilton.

  10. Stewart was just giving his opinion.

    There’s a lot of truth to what Stewart said. Hamilton’s closest rivals over the past 7 years have been the much lower paid driver on the other side of the pit garage.

    Schumacher only had two seasons (2002 and 2004) where his teammate was his only real rival. The rest of the time he was fighting the might of Williams, McLaren, then Renault.

    Much tougher to win a championship in that kind of ultra-competitive environment. Bottas is almost always put on the same strategy as Hamilton and never a contra strategy so races are very straight forward for Hamilton.

    1. JP (@jonathanproc)
      12th October 2020, 20:50

      2017 says hello

    2. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
      12th October 2020, 22:39

      1995 was also a runaway year for MS.

      For Lewis, the Rosberg years are easily forgotten because it was mainly intra-team competition. Seb led large amounts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons

      The only runaway seasons for LH have been 2015 and 2019 IMO, this year too if he wins it. So that’s three, just like Michael’s 1995, 2001 and 2004.

      1. 1995 the Williams was the superior by quite a margin. Schumacher made up the difference.

        If you don’t agree you weren’t watching

        1. 1995 season was a landslide for Benatton

      2. Also, as has been discussed, Vettel was only ahead in 2017 and 2018 because of Mercedes and Hamilton blunders in the early part of those seasons. When Vettel or Ferrari made mistakes it is held against them, but that doesn’t apply with all drivers.

        There’s no way a prime 30 year old Schumacher doesn’t easily win those championships against Rosberg if they’re teammates in the most dominant car of all time. A 43 year old Schumacher matches Rosberg 10-10 in qualifying in 2012.

        1. It’s clear that Rosberg became a better driver as the years went by and was probably at his best from 2014 to 2016. He upped his game because of who he was next to and what was on the line. Who knows what would have happened between prime Schumacher and prime Rosberg? Contracts, reliability, questionable on and off track tactics. These speculative comparisons and what ifs are tiresome and futile.

        2. yes but gets destroyed by Rosberg on championship points…

  11. These older drivers are spot-on, and Lewis is just plain wrong in everything he says (but that is the norm we’ve grown accustomed to). Lewis is not deserving..pure plain and simple…the facts are all that is needed to see that. Driving for a team that dominates the “formula” (the rules) means you have a much easier task than any other drivers. Winning with what is clearly a better machine, is nothing like trying to finish in the points, for a bottom dwelling team. Let’s see Lewis drive a Haas or a Williams to victory this year…then, I’d be impressed. Otherwise, not impressed. Sorry.

      1. That’s a complete surprise to many of us, I’m sure.

        1. @david-br
          Oh did I hurt your wittle sycophant feelings by agreeing with the other man about your golden boy? Here, have a Black Lives Matter mask and you’ll feel better.

    1. Name one driver who won multiple world championships in a car that wasn’t dominant, just one!. And people forget the Rosberg years, those were the most difficult championships Lewis won

    2. He had a 50% chance every year, for the past 7 years, to become WDC. Those are nice odds

  12. Lewis has benefited from better technology(engines don’t fail as much as they did then) driver safety, and the length of the season. I want to like Lewis, a great talent behind the wheel. he has to realize that not everybody going to love him, just like every other World Champion has had to deal with.

    1. I think he knows!

    2. It swings both ways though. If other people’s cars fail it would also help Hamilton win championships.

  13. I think JACKIE has a thing or dislike for Hamilton when during one of those canadian grand prix races where Jenson Button squeezed hamilton into a wall forcing him to crash out.. stewart was talking loudest that Hamilton should have been penalised for dangerous driving. etc etc.

  14. Oh the irony. Lewis passive aggressively gaslighting Jackie as having a bee in his bonnet, when Jackie was just speaking the truth.

    Lewis is becoming more and more of egomaniac with each passing weekend. Anyone who doesn’t shower him with praise or do exactly what he demands must either be a racist or have something against him. It never enters his mind to try and understand what they said in context, as it would force him to tone down the self idolization he’s so fond of.

    1. If that’s what you got from this statement then you need to take a long hard look in the mirror because that’s where the problem lies, not with Lewis.

    2. It’s like he expects adulation and when he doesn’t get it, then he does get quite passive-aggressive.

  15. I have to wonder if Max Verstappen was Lewis’s teammate instead of Valtteri Bottas how may win Lewis would have.
    Lewis always had a better car than 99.9 % of drivers. I’m not saying he a great driver but certainly not the GOAT. It’s too hard to say who the best ever is….technology has changed everything in car racing today.

    1. F1oSaurus (@f1osaurus)