Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton is the “greatest of our era” after clinching a record-equaling seventh drivers’ championship at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Hamilton secured the 2020 title with a dominant victory in wet conditions from sixth on the grid, finishing half a minute ahead of second-placed Sergio Perez.
The Briton, who has won six of the last seven world titles, drew level with Michael Schumacher’s record, 16 years on from when the German set the feat.
Vettel was the first to congratulate Hamilton on his achievement in parc ferme, with the pair claiming 10 of the previous 11 championships.
While Vettel felt it was difficult to compare Hamilton to drivers from different generations, he was in no doubt that statistically the Mercedes driver is the greatest in the sport’s history.
Asked what he told Hamilton in his exchange with the newly-crowned seven-time world champion, Vettel said: “I told him that it’s very special for us because we can witness history being made today.
“Maybe we would be useless because we’d all be s***ing ourselves in those cars, maybe they would be useless in our cars because they’re way too fast, who knows? But it doesn’t matter. I think he is the greatest of our era for sure. I think it’s always difficult to compare, how can you possibly compare [Juan Manuel] Fangio, Stirling Moss to our generation? You can’t.
“I think every era has its driver, or its drivers, and Lewis is certainly the biggest, greatest of our era.
“To me, certainly emotionally, Michael [Schumacher] will always be the greatest driver. But there’s no doubt Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved. He’s equalled the championships, he has more races won, he has a lot more pole positions so I think he’s done everything you can ask for.”
Vettel earned his first podium of the season with a measurable drive from 11th on the grid, making up eight places on the opening lap, in which he passed eventual winner Hamilton.
The four-time world champion felt Hamilton’s performance was the “best proof” of his natural talent given it wasn’t “his race to win” with Mercedes having struggled all weekend.
“I think today’s the best proof,” Vettel said of Hamilton’s greatness. “It’s a difficult race, a very difficult race to stay on track and two hours long, and probably if we’re honest, it wasn’t his race to win and he still won it.
“I think once again he managed to pull something special out of that bag, and therefore I think he deserves everything he has achieved.”