Abu Dhabi: British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and German Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel praised late Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio as both racers eye matching Fangio's five Formula One titles.
Hamilton secured his fourth title weeks before the end of the 2017 championship while Vettel won the last of his four consecutive crowns in 2013. "Certainly, we will never match him in how successful he had been in such a short time and so little races. Obviously, back then it was different. Racing was different," Vettel said on Thursday ahead of the season-ending race this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Fangio, who died in 1995, won his maiden world title in 1951 and took four straight crowns between 1954 and 1957. "To have achieved what he did achieve in that time, where a lot of things needed to come together, the cars were not as reliable and all of that, still he managed to be that successful, I think he's probably the best we've ever had in terms of putting it together, in terms of skill, in terms of how brave they were at the time," Vettel said.
Hamilton echoed Vettel's opinion of Fangio. "I agree with Sebastian. Naturally, he's just a leading icon in motorsport. To have achieved what he achieved in the time, when danger was really at its worst. I think he's the driver that I think everyone admires most, perhaps being that it was in the most dangerous period of time in motorsport," Hamilton said.
"I think he should be celebrated more for his success. It's not really mentioned a huge amount. Often you hear about Ayrton and Prost, but I feel he's the godfather of the sport in terms of the drivers," he added. Hamilton said he expected fierce competition from Vettel during the 2018 Formula One season. "No one is perfect. Even I have things to work on. I expect Sebastian to raise the bar again next year. Ferrari had a great season," the British racer said.