Lewis Hamilton was today left stunned when Michael Schumacher’s son presented him with one of his father’s crash helmets after the British race ace equalled the German legend’s record 91 Grand Prix wins.
Fourteen years and 10 days after Schumacher won his last, Hamilton drew level with the titan of motor-sport with victory in the Mercedes car at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
Mick Schumacher, 21, who is leading the F2 championship and tipped for F1 greatness, presented Hamilton with one of his father’s crash helmets from his time with Mercedes in his final season.
Hamilton, 35, who replaced Schumacher at the team in 2013, shook hands with and embraced his son Mick before describing how humbled he was to have matched his racing idol.
Sadly, as the world knows, Michael, 51, is confined to a private life of convalescence after the skiing accident that robbed him of his vitality nearly seven years ago.
‘I don’t even know what to say,’ Hamilton said after the race. ‘When you grow up watching someone and you genuinely idolise them, in terms of the quality of the driver they are.
‘Seeing his dominance for so long I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near Michael in terms of records so it’s an incredible honour. It’s going to take time to get used to it.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes proudly admires the crash helmet of Michael Schumacher after being presented with his hero’s crash helmet by his 21-year-old son Mick after his record-matching win at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany on Sunday
The son of Michael, 21-year-old Mick Schumacher, presented Hamilton with one of his father’s Mercedes crash helmets
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, who won the Eifel Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring racetrack in Nuerburg, Germany, sprays champagne to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, right,at the podium, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia finished third
Lewis Hamilton was left stunned in his post-race Eifel GP interview by Mick Schumacher
NUERBURG, GERMANY – OCTOBER 11: Mick Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari presents Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain with his father Michael Schumacher’s helmet to celebrate equalling his father’s achievement of 91 wins during the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring on October 11, 2020 in Nuerburg, Germany
The gift came as a result of Hamilton equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 GP wins
Hamilton shows off his cherished gift to fans at track who applauded in acknowledgement
Hamilton looks at the crash helmet as Mick looks on in the background at the Nurburgring
The crash helmet was one from Michael’s final season in the sport from 2012
Schumacher ended his career at Mercedes in 2012, and was replaced by Hamilton in 2013
‘It was only when I got into the pit-lane I realised I had equalled it. A big thank you and huge respect to Michael. I feel humbled by the moment. Hopefully we have more records to break.’
Hamilton reflected on how he would race as Schumacher on racing games along with his brother while growing up, and that matching his record was unbelievable following his win at the Nurburgring.
‘I remember sitting with my brother and dad watching races every Sunday, watching Michael storm ahead,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘We would watch the first half and then at the end me and my brother would race a computer game upstairs and I would be Michael.
‘I was always Michael he was phenomenal. That was when I was 13 or 14. I did one day dream of being here but this is beyond my wildest dreams of reaching Michael’s wins. It’s very hard to describe how I feel my mind is blown. I have a bit of a headache!’
Competing in Schumacher’s homeland on Sunday, Hamilton secured his spot alongside his idol in racing history.
When Schumacher was an automaton of success, he almost destroyed the sport by his brilliance.
Certainly, many thought his 91 victories would never be broken. But here was Hamilton, a boy from Stevenage, who in 14 seasons has matched the seemingly matchless in 261 grands prix.
Hamilton’s 91st victory came at the Nurburgring after dominating the Eifel Grand Prix
He celebrates his win on the podium which puts him 69 points clear in the championship
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates after being presented with a helmet of Michael Schumacher for matching his record of 91 race wins during the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring on October 11, 2020
The Brit battled well from second place on the grid to eventually take the lead before dominating at the Nurburgring
The Brit is congratulated on his victory in Parc Ferme by Max Verstappen (right), who took second place for Red Bull
He will also, surely, go level with Schumacher on seven world titles before the campaign ends in Abu Dhabi on December 13. He leads Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 69 points with 11 of the 17 rounds completed.
Lewis first burst across our horizons in 2007 with a bravura opening corner in Melbourne on a debut that betokened all the mould-breaking that was to follow.
And here at the Nurburgring the victory was mostly simple, despite starting second behind Bottas.
Hamilton pressed the Finn hard, out-braking him into the first corner, but Bottas for once jagged his elbows out, and re-established his advantage on the inside of the second bend.
Hamilton’s chance came on lap 13. Bottas locked up at Turn One and ran wide. The Briton pounced, taking ownership of the race that he was never to relinquish.
His task on this spine-tingling, breath-shortening afternoon of opportunity – with the temperature just 8C – was made easier when Bottas announced over the radio a loss of engine power, a precursor to his retirement a few moments later.
Renault took their first podium for nine years with Daniel Ricciardo, who rounded out the top three in Germany on Sunday
The top three line up on the podium after the race which took place in the chilly conditions at the Nurburgring circuit
Bottas lead the Brit early but made a crucial mistake which allowed Hamilton to snatch a lead he would then never lose
Hamilton (left) got a good start to edge ahead of Bottas into turn one, only for the Finn to emerge in front moments later
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, a talent who might, just possibly one outlandish day, challenge the new peaks Hamilton will set for the sport, finished second.
The Dutchman is driving brilliantly, outperforming his car. He is just 23. Hamilton made his debut at 22, yet Verstappen is already into his sixth season.
Daniel Ricciardo, a friend of Hamilton, finished third for Renault.
Some 13,500 fans shivered their timbers and applauded Hamilton in the German car for drawing level with Schumacher, the absent hero who was born and developed his art as a karter at Kerpen 53 miles north of where this action was unfolding.
People will say that Hamilton is uniquely blessed by the dominance of the equipment he is driving. This is true. A jockey is better on Arkle than a Blackpool donkey. But he remains a super talent – his focus on winning undimmed by time.
He has his other interests, such as fashion and music, but he has used those to keep him sharp for the day job.
The one moment of possible vulnerability in this latest race was presented by the safety car called out after Lando Norris’s McLaren conked out towards the close.
Dark clouds threatened the Eifel Grand Prix with rain but the race remained dry aside from very light minor showers
Norris’s retirement led to a late safety car but Hamilton managed to fend off any attack forthcoming from Verstappen
A crowd of 13,500 socially distanced fans watch the action at the Nurburgring as Norris tours the circuit in his McLaren
Briton’s Lando Norris had been running third for McLaren following Bottas’ retirement but was forced to eventually retire
Would Verstappen be able to pile on the pressure? No, Hamilton made light of cold rubber on the re-start to remain clearly out in front. His serenity was in contrast to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who spun as he seems always to do these days.
The four-time champion, inspired by Schumacher as a kid, had once imagined all the records for himself as he dominated the sport in the first four years of the last decade.
Over in the Alfa Romeo garage, stood Schumacher Jnr impassively watching on as his father’s feats were met.
It was a day to hail Hamilton, a talent as rare as Halley’s Comet.
Schumacher has been recovering from an horrific skiing accident since 2013 after he was put into a medically induced coma.
His health is now shrouded in mystery but recent reports have claimed he has been moved to a £27m mansion in Majorca.
EIFEL GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND STANDINGS
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 35mins 49.641secs
2 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:35:54.111
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:36:04.254
4 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:36:05.711
5 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:36:11.546
6 Pierre Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1:36:12.407
7 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:36:20.455
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Racing Point 1:36:22.237
9 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 1:36:28.722
10 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 1:36:29.676
11 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:36:30.451
12 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo 1:36:31.117
13 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 1:36:39.226
14 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:36:44.090
15 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) AlphaTauri 1:36:45.229
16 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 42 laps completed, 17 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 23 laps completed, 18 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault 22 laps completed, 19 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 18 laps completed, 20 George Russell (Gbr) Williams 12 laps completed
Max Verstappen 1min 28.139 secs on lap 60
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 230pts
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 161
3 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 147
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 78
5 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 68
6 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 65
7 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 64
8 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 63
9 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 57
10 Pierre Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 53
11 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 51
12 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault 36
13 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 17
14 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) AlphaTauri 14
15 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Racing Point 10
16 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 3
17 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo 2
18 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 2
19 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 1
20 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 0,
21 George Russell (Gbr) Williams 0
Constructors’ standings: 1 Mercedes 391pts, 2 Red Bull 211, 3 Racing Point 120, 4 McLaren 116, 5 Renault 114, 6 Ferrari 80, 7 AlphaTauri 67, 8 Alfa Romeo 5, 9 Haas 3, 10 Williams 0