Vettel previously named Michael Schumacher as the best F1 driver of all time in his opinion, but it seems he has since changed his mind while still ignoring Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel has changed his mind on who he believes to be the Formula 1 GOAT – but like last time he avoided choosing Lewis Hamilton.
The four-time world champion knows more than most what it takes to be among the F1 elite. Vettel will retire later this month as one of the most decorated racers the sport has ever seen, boasting 53 race wins and 112 podiums, as well as those four consecutive drivers’ titles.
Last year, on the eve of the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Vettel made it clear who he believed to be the greatest driver the sport has ever seen. No matter whether or not Hamilton got the better of Max Verstappen last year, he still advocated for his countryman Michael Schumacher.
“Michael is my hero, for that reason I probably don’t want Lewis to win,” he said last December. “But the truth is they both had a strong season and they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win the championship because they both deserve it.
“In a way, I would be happy if Michael’s record still stands, but even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest. Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships – it doesn’t change anything for me.”
Those comments made clear his unwavering belief in that point of view, but it seems something may have changed over the last 12 months. Asked again for his verdict on that most controversial of questions, Vettel now believes the GOAT to be five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
The Argentine competed in a vastly different era of the sport, winning 24 races in 51 starts on the way to five world championships in the 1950s. “I’m a fan of Michael [Schumacher], but Fangio is a little better… the best, the best, the king,” said Vettel.
The German also went on to give his verdict on Verstappen, who may well enter the GOAT debate one day after romping to 2022 title – the second of his career – aged 25. “I think he’s had a hell of a season, so hopefully he goes on and get 16 [wins] by the end of the year, because anything else will be a disappointment,” Vettel added.
“It is great for [Red Bull] and I still know some people there, so I am really happy for them. Obviously they have a lot of momentum from last year and the car this year is incredible. They won races even though they were heavier than anybody else, and I think now they’ve finally got the weight out. So the car is there, but Max is doing an amazing job as well.”