Lewis Hamilton has been hailed as a more complete driver than Michael Schumacher by nine-time grand prix winner Mark Webber.
Hamilton, who holds a five-point championship lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, is on course to match Schumacher’s haul of seven world titles this season.
The 35-year-old Mercedes driver is also just five victories short of Schumacher’s win record of 91 – a tally he seems certain to surpass at some stage this year.
“I would take Lewis over Michael because of his completeness,” Webber, who raced against both men, told the PA news agency.
“I am not saying Michael wasn’t anything because we are comparing two juggernauts. Michael put our sport into a whole new stratosphere in terms of fitness and his technical approach. He was an extraordinary pioneer.
“But some of Michael’s numbers are challenged in terms of how he went about certain things. So, Lewis, in terms of how clinical he is, how he has done some pretty special stuff in weaker cars, I would have him by a whisker.”
After a slow start at the first round in Austria, Hamilton has bounced back with two impressive wins – his triumph last time out in Hungary was among the most dominant the sport has seen in recent history.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix will be Hamilton’s 14th home race, and Webber believes Hamilton – who is yet to extend his Mercedes contract which expires at the end of the season – can continue to operate at the highest level for a further four seasons.
“Hamilton has got a lot of strings to his bow, he has very few weaknesses and that has been horrendous for his opposition to deal with,” added Webber, who will be part of Channel 4’s live coverage at Silverstone on Sunday.
“When he can smell victories and the real stuff, which is winning championships, he is absolutely frightening.
“Lewis has had a long career, and the sign again of a great champion is longevity. When Lewis is eight out of 10 he is special, but when he is 10 out of 10, going for it and is hungry, he is pretty much unbeatable.
“I don’t see him breaking down physically, it is just motivation. It is natural, and we don’t know when this will happen, that at some stage he will lose some drive.
“But you would be a brave man to say he couldn’t operate deep into his thirties at a high level.”