Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes Britain’s Lewis Hamilton will soon be acknowledged as the best racing driver in history.
Hamilton is on the brink of becoming only the fifth driver to win a fourth world championship and is likely to clinch the title on Sunday at the Mexican Grand Prix.
“Lewis is about to break all records that have been set in Formula One and it is just a matter of time that people will say he is on track to being the best driver that has ever existed,” said Wolff.
Hamilton’s fourth crown would leave him one short of Juan Manuel Fangio’s tally and three behind Michael Schumacher but, at 32, with ample time left to emulate their achievements.
The Englishman is perhaps seen as more admired than loved, even in his home country, yet Wolff insists his more divisive traits will make Hamilton’s legacy more profound.
“High performers polarise because they have strong opinions and they express those. You don’t want to be down the middle and boring, and today if you polarise you stand out. Lewis stands out,” he added.
“Those sport icons that polarise eventually get the credit, but maybe after their career ends. This is the best Lewis – both on and off the track – that I have worked with since 2013.”
Fellow driver Felipe Massa, meanwhile, says Hamilton already deserves to be compared with his idol Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian three-time champion, and Schumacher.
“Lewis is definitely one of the best drivers in the history of Formula One,” Massa said.
“You cannot really take him away or [place him] in a different level compared to Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. He’s there.”
Hamilton needs only to finish in the top five in Mexico City at the weekend, the third last race on the calendar.