Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

Hamilton and Schumacher surprisingly similar in the car, quite different out of it – Shovlin

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin described how Lewis Hamilton compares to the driver he replaced at the team seven years ago – Michael Schumacher – now the pair share the record for most wins in F1 history.

Speaking after Hamilton had equalled Schumacher’s tally of 91 wins at the Nurburgring on Sunday, Shovlin said he suspects Hamilton’s rivals underestimate the effort he puts into sustaining his success.

“He works very hard,” said Shovlin. “He’s a driver that I think, perhaps, his rivals like to think is just fast in the car but doesn’t put the hours in. But he’s one of the hardest working drivers we’ve ever known.”

Shovlin said Hamilton’s continued evolution and “relentless” search for improvement with his race engineer Peter Bonnington and performance engineer Marcus Dudley are what has driven him to new successes over his career.

“It’s the more he can understand about the tyres, about how the car works, about how to use all the available tools – he’s able to take that and build it into his driving.

Schumacher ‘could drive whatever balance was quickest’
“It’s just in this relentless way: Every missed opportunity is something that needs fixing before the next race goes. He goes off and works with Bono and Marcus, his engineering crew and with the wider team trying to understand the issues.”

Even in his 14th season of Formula 1, Hamilton is still “constantly building his skillset”, said Shovlin. “So long into a career, you think drivers would sort of top out their skillset but Lewis keeps finding new and different things to do and how to get the most out of the car and the tyres.”

Shovlin worked with Michael Schumacher at Mercedes before the seven-times world champion retired and was replaced by Hamilton. Although Shovlin says “the two characters couldn’t be more different”, the pair share some key traits which set them apart from their rivals.

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The first is an obsessive focus on pursuing every last hundredth of a second. “If you look at how they drive, when Michael arrived in our team, the things that stood out about him were the way he would always go after the marginal gains. It doesn’t matter if it’s one hundredth of a second, he’d try and do it and he’d collect those up.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020
Hamilton’s pursuit of performance is relentless, says Shovlin
The drivers’ adaptability also set them apart from others, said Shovlin. “Michael also had an ability to drive whatever balance was quickest; if it was an understeering car that you needed, he’d to do it, if you needed to move the work onto the front tyres, he could so he was very, very adaptable in his driving style.”

“Those are certainly two characteristics that Lewis very much has,” he added. “A lot of the good drivers don’t have a particular style, it’s just whatever’s quick, they’ll adapt to do it.”

Schumacher and Hamilton were also able to apply whatever engineering advice they were given, no matter how complex the instructions.

“[With] Michael, it doesn’t matter how many things you told him to do on a lap, whether it was moving the brake bias, where to look after tyres, what he needed to do to get them in the right window, he’d be able to sort of put them all together.

“And again, that’s one that Lewis does – quite quietly, often – you don’t need loads but you can just keep layering one thing on top of another and he doesn’t forget it. He just does it and then if you give him more things to do, he adds that on top.

“So I think just in terms of that way they are in the car, they’re actually more similar than you might believe. It’s just that out of the car they’re two quite different people.”

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2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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154 comments on “Hamilton and Schumacher surprisingly similar in the car, quite different out of it – Shovlin”

  1. The difference between Hamilton and Schumacher is that only one of them was capable of a drive like Spain 1996. Dominating in a mediocre car.

    If you give Hamilton and Schumacher the best car car, they will both dominate.

    If you give them a mediocre car, Schumacher will shine more than Hamilton. There is no equivalent to Barcelona 1996 from Lewis. He does not have a drive at that level.

    I can accept that Hamilton was more of a sportsman than Schumacher, but Schumacher was the greater talent. He could drive any car fast. Hamilton has a narrower operating window.

    1. Ah, the conviction of the armchair pundit!

      1. Armchair pundit? The whole point of a Formula 1 comment page or forum is so that ordinary fans can voice their opinion.

        If you dislike my opinion, that’s fine. I don’t really care about yours.

        1. There wouldnt be a reply button if it wasn’t about engagement. What a rediculous comment from M7!

        2. @kingshark

          So try and say it a little more like it is an opinion rather than a blustering statement as if its fact.

          Luckily we have people like Shove who actually have knowledge, rather than subjective armchairing

        3. I’ll trust Shovlins assessment over yours all day long and twice on Sundays.

        4. You never stated that it was your opinion did you?

      2. Utter rubbish Kingshark

        2008;Silverstone is just one of many let alone 2009 Hungary in a total dog of car

        1. 2009 Singapore and 2010 Belgium too

        2. yes I agree the 2009 McLaren was absolutely rubbish at the beginning of the season but Hamilton adapted to it and won numerous poles and to race wins.

    2. W (@vishnusxdx)
      14th October 2020, 8:16

      Ah yes, a lot more convincing than the engineer who actually knows how these two drivers managed their cars.

      1. @vishnusxdx
        Shovlin never actually worked with prime Schumacher. He worked with a 42 year old Schumacher who suffered a serious neck injury in 2009.

        But beyond that, I have given my opinion on why Schumacher is better in my view. It’s not that Hamilton isn’t a great driver, it’s just that peak Schumacher impressed me more.

        1. I think the cars impressed me more in Schumachers era.
          There are a very different set of skills required now, with the drivers very rarely flat out in a race.
          When Lewis is flat out, he is untouchable – but we very rarely see that during a grand prix. The rules don’t allow that kind of racing.

          Which is why comparing is utterly pointless.

        2. @kingshark

          Shovlin never actually worked with prime Schumacher.

          Whereas you did? How much hot air have you got for us today?

          1. he can’t help but embarass himself a little more with every comment. what a character!

        3. @kingshark

          You’re more impressed with Shui, because you’ve decided to chose the facts that suit your argument only

          For instance, Hamilton was equally impressive in getting that 2009 Mclaren onto the top step at Hungary – a car which Eddie Irvine described as possibly the worst one Mclaren had ever produced

          Amazing how some simply airbrush away facts that don’t suit them

        4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          14th October 2020, 20:08

          @kingshark, do you know who did work with Schumacher at his peak. Ross Brawn and James Allison. They also say the same things as Shov. Who worked with Lewis at McLaren? Mark Priestley. Check out his opinions on F1Elvis You Tube channel. See, there are opinions, and then there are informed opinions. If you had said for example, “I know all the experts say they are both very similar but I believe Schumacher was the best” you’d probably get a couple of “yeah right” responses but not much more. If your opinion is not swayed by evidence, facts or expert testimonials, then its more of a dogma. That’s when you invite ridicule. No one will ever know which is the best but at least admit, in the modern era which I consider to be the early or mid 90’s when aero and car development really took off, there’s only two drivers in the conversation. (Save Senna who sadly wasn’t given his deserved career length.) Be objective enough to admit the similarities then state your opinion. I’d be fine by that. I’ll freely admit Hamilton has weaknesses. Can you do the same with Schumacher?

    3. Silverstone 2008 wasn’t bad either though: a 68 seconds gap to n°2…

      1. @paeschli
        Silverstone 2008 was a great drive but I rate it below Spain 1996 for a couple of reasons:

        1. The 2008 McLaren was a far better car than the 1996 Ferrari. I mean, Kovalainen was on pole…
        2. Raikkonen was actually faster than Hamilton in the opening stint, but Ferrari strategy completely ruined his race

        Put it this way: Hamilton drove a great race, Schumacher drove an impossible one

        1. They’re nice words, but factually, if it was impossible, he wouldn’t have done it, the fact that he did it, means it was possible, if it was possible for him, it was possible for someone like Hamilton

          People also forget Hamiltons Australia 2009 drive because of the ‘lie gate’ nonsense, which was a drive, from the back of the field, onto the podium, in a car that at the start of the season was miles off the pace and had terrible handling issues.

          1. If they “forget a drive” it did not made a lasting impression.

          2. Or maybe it’s because certain members of the community try to deflect attention from the performance by talking about other aspects of that weekend.

        2. Completely agree with your opinion Kingshark.
          Schui would’ve possibly got a 9th crown if it wasn’t by the injuries he suffered (leg and neck)

    4. I don’t think Hamilton has been in that situation to show that in an inferior car, maybe in 2009? The 1996 Ferrari was bad, but it wasn’t a Toleman.

      Personally I put Schumacher and Hamilton and probably now Verstappen on equal footing when it comes to wet weather drives. Schumacher also pronged it at Monaco in the wet that year too @kingshark.

      1. There are a bunch of race where Hamilton had driven cars his teammates couldn’t drive. In korea 2011 he drove a car that had a broken roll bar. In 2012 Canada the car was on the edge of balance Button could not handle it.

      2. Hamilton and Schumacher are in the same league as Senna that is now certain. However it is much too early to talk of Verstappen in this league. He is a talent no doubt there but so is Ricciardo they can drive the wheels of their cars on a given weekend. But both have yet to prove that they can mount a fully sustained world championship campaign, race after race to win a title.

    5. Don’t forget Spa 97. Pulling out at 7 seconds per lap. Monaco that year he had 20 second lead after 5 laps in what was a very ordinary Ferrari.

    6. @kingshark Lol Spain 1996. Pretty much identical to Monaco 1996 where Panis won after only 6 cars remained. So yes Schumacher is just as great as Panis.

      Schumacher in the Ferrari was a decent wet weather driver. Not great but decent. In the Benetton Schumacher wasn’t that great in the wet at all.

      Schumacher still made tons of mistakes. Like for instance the same Monaco 1996 where he planted his car in the wall on lap 1.

      2008 Silverstone was much more a proper race with most cars making it to the end. Otherwise add Germany 2018. Where he started from P14 and won the race. Or look at qualifying Styria 2020 where he put Verstappen on 1.2s. Or Hungary Q3 2018 where he put Vettel on 0.6s behind when Vette; had a car that was easily 0.6 faster than Hamilton’s.

      The list with Hamilton’s wet weather exploits goes on and on

      1. You never watched the race if you claim Spain 1996 is somehow like Panis’s win. It was complete dominance.

        Conditions were as treacherous as you’ll ever see in an F1 race. The race would be red flagged today.

        Silverstone 1008 was as much about the right tyre strategy as Hamilton’s driving, while Spain 1996 was pure dominance.

        Apart from Silverstone 2008, his other memorable wet drives are in his rocketship Merc.

        1. Not sure about that. Fuji 2007 wasn’t a bad showing.

        2. It wasn’t complete dominance any more than Panis was. Besides, Schumacher himself explained that he was helped by the engine having an issue and therefore producing less power. Which gave him less wheelspin.

          Hamilton had a bigger gap to the whole field than Schumacher had and that was a field that was still on track

          1. @f1osaurus
            Monaco 1996? You mean the race that Hill was leading easily before car failure?

            Spain 1996 was one of the greatest drives ever, and it was done in a much worse car than Silverstone 2008.

            Also, Hamilton was outpaced by Raikkonen in the opening stint

          2. Schumacher was well and truly ahead when his main rivals retired. Something that is already different with the Panis win.

            Yeah, Schumacher binned it at Monaco 96. He was also brilliant in 20 other wet-weather races. It’s not like Hamilton never made a mistake in the rain either. China 2009 and Hungary 2011 come to mind quickly, there just wasn’t a wall along side him to crash into.

            “In the Benetton Schumacher wasn’t that great in the wet at all.”

            Schumacher was second in Spain 92, he won Belgium 92, he was second in Japan 94.

            He crashed in the first lap with Senna in France 92 and spun off in the wet in Europe 93 (but was leading after a tyre gamble). Apart from the fact that Schumacher was very young, his performances in the rain were usualy pretty good.

          3. @kingshark Yes Monaco 1996 where Schumacher binned it on the opening lap. Not sure how Hill was involved in that.

            But perhaps you mean it’s also similar to how Hill lost the lead in Spain? Ther is not much reason in your posts to be honest.

            Check again how poor Schumacher was in the Benetton in the wet and how he suddenly performed much better in a Ferrari and then (without bursting into laughter) say that his car was worse …

          4. @f1osaurus

            Check again how poor Schumacher was in the Benetton in the wet

            Why do you continue to embarrass yourself with terrible opinions?

            Schumacher’s drives in mixed conditions at Nurburgring 1995 and Spa 1995 are easily on par with Hamilton’s best drives.

            Schumacher was lapping 4 seconds quicker than the 2nd and 3rd place cars (Alesi and Villeneueve) with a far worse than anything Hamilton has ever driven in his career.

          5. Panis won because everyone else crashed out.

            Spain 1996 was total in terms of lap speed and making no errors.

          6. Even Senna made mistakes in the wet.

            Schumacher’s few wet weather mistakes were made in twitchy 90’s cars. His Benetton didn’t have all the electronic aids that Senna had in 1993 for instance.

          7. @kingshark Schumacher had a terrible track record in the wet. Well he had a faster car and hardly any opposition, but still. I mean, Hill, seriously? or Villeneuve?

            Funnily enough, Alesi had a great wet driver track record at Ferrari and after he moved to Benetton he also wasn’t so great in the wet anymore.

          8. @f1osaurus
            Schumacher’s drives in mixed conditions at Nurburgring 1995 and Spa 1995 are easily on par with the best drivers of Hamilton’s career.

            And yes, those were done in a Benetton

          9. @kingshark So what? He might have had a decent result now and then, but more often he just wasn’t that good in the wet.

        3. Silverstone 1008 was as much about the right tyre strategy as Hamilton’s driving

          Wow, careful, you almost inadvertently admitted Hamilton is an exceptional driver.

          1. Strange those “blind fans”, he already stated Han is an excellent driver. It’s just that Schum. was better.
            That seems hard to swallow.

          2. erikje, so you’re his protection detail? Cute. But why would I find it difficult to accept his opinion? Nothing he writes leads me to conclude he is either informed or balanced, so his ‘opinion’ is basically worthless to me. My problem is with this relentless trolling after any mention of Hamilton’s name and an obsessive need to devalue F1s only black driver through what in any other walk of life would be labelled harrassment.

          3. @david-br
            It has nothing to do with race, some people just don’t like Hamilton. Why is it so hard to accept that not everyone is a Hamilton fan?

            Not to mention that the hate Hamilton receives pales in comparison to what Schumacher used to receive. I remember when people on online forums openly wished that he had died at Silverstone 1999.

          4. @kingshark Because even if we’re opposed to racism, we have a responsibility to not be part of the problem. Persistently posting something that downplays Hamilton’s achievements on every single article on this site may not be intended to target him as a black driver, but it has precisely the same effect as someone who does wish to attack him for that reason: relentless, unbalanced, apparently motivated by ill will only. If you’ve ever been the target of systematic abuse or harassment, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, try empathy.

        4. There’s some toxicity on this thread. Hamilton and Schumacher have both had amazing drives, it’s sad when highly selective facts are used to discredit either. Thought this website was better than this.

          It’s almost as if the 2017 and 2018 seasons didn’t exist the way Hamilton is portrayed as only winning because of his “rocketship.” It’s really sad.

        5. Spa 2008, Monaco 2008.

        6. @f1osaurus
          “Decent result”?

          Spa 1995 and Nurburgring 1995 are legendary drives, easily on par with the best drives of Hamilton’s career.

          That’s more than just “decent results”

          1. @kingshark Yes I know when Schumacher wins it’s an epic result. When Hamilton wins a wet race from P14 or laps almost the entire field (which is more than just 4 other cars) it’s meh .

            Either way, Schumacher was abysmal in just as many races as that he was “epic”. That’s the point.

          2. @f1osaurus
            If you’re going to only look at the bad races, I can easily make an argument that Hamilton was mediocre in the rain at McLaren. After all, he had plenty of mediocre wet races from 2007-2012.

          3. @kingshark Nope Hamilton has very little poor ones in the wet. Schumacher had more poor races than decent ones.

          4. Let’s see the facts again…

            2007 Europe GP: Went off
            2007 Japanese GP: Won
            2007: Shanghai GP: Went off
            2008 Monaco GP: Acutally went in to the wall, but that lucked him into the right strategie, so won.
            2008 British Gp: Won
            2008 Brazilian GP: Actually a poor drive in to 5th
            2009 Malaysian GP: 7th
            2010 Melbourne: Never even close to his teammate and eventually finishing 6th, could have been 4th.
            2010 Korean GP: 2nd after Vettel retired, never in contention for the win.
            2011 Canadian GP: Crashed with Button
            2012 Malaysian GP: finished 3d

            Maybe I have missed one… Belgium 2008, it rained in the final few laps but they never switched to inters… he would have won that one without a penalty. Apart from that, he only won 3 from the list. His teammates actually won another 3 of those, so it wasn’t impossible to win more. It’s only since his Mercedes-days he’s been consistently performing better in the rain. Perhaps because his teammates, both Rosberg and Bottas, were never really that good in the wet.

          5. @f1osaurus
            Let’s analyze every Hamilton drive in the wet at McLaren

            Europe 2007 – went off
            Japan 2007 – won
            China 2007 – went off
            Monaco 2008 – crashed into the wall and then got luck with the SC
            Britain 2008 – won
            Brazil 2008 – mediocre drive
            Malaysia 2009 – seventh
            China 2009 – sixth and spun several times, finished behind Heikki
            Australia 2010 – sixth while Button won the race
            China 2010 – second while Button won the race
            Belgium 2010 – won
            Korea 2010 – lucked into second place thanks to accidents ahead of him, his pace was average
            Canada 2011 – spun Webber around and then crashed
            Silverstone 2011 – fourth
            Hungary 2011 – spun
            Malaysia 2012 – third
            Brazil 2012 – unlucky with Hulkenberg

            This is what you call a great record in the rain? Schumacher’s record at Benetton was superior.

          6. @kingshark So indeed Hamilton did a lot better than Schumacher in the wet

          7. @f1osaurus
            Schumacher won 4 wet weather races (Belgium 92, Europe 95, Belgium 95, Japan 95) in 4 full seasons at Benetton.

            Hamilton won 4 wet weather races in 6 seasons at McLaren.

            Schumacher at Benetton > Hamilton at McLaren in the wet

          8. @kingshark Sure but Schumacher crapped up twice as many races as Hamilton did.

          9. Besides, your list is nonsensical of course and you know it.

          10. @f1osaurus

            Sure but Schumacher crapped up twice as many races as Hamilton did.

            Please provide evidence for this claim