Vettel: 'Hero' Schumacher still the greatest, Hamilton says it's 'not important'

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Sebastian Vettel still considers Michael Schumacher to be Formula 1's greatest driver even as Lewis Hamilton equals his records.

The Mercedes driver joined the German legend with 91 race wins at the Eifel Grand Prix last weekend, putting him well on course to also match Schumacher as a seven-time world champion.

And Vettel, who admitted to mixed feelings over seeing Schumacher's records fall, praised Hamilton for his achievement.

"I think I can't respect his efforts enough," he said at the Nurburgring.

"It's been the number in my head that I thought would never be beaten or equalled. I think we can be quite certain he will exceed this number.

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"Nevertheless, I have to say that Michael will always be my hero," the Ferrari driver added, "and I think Michael had something about him that I haven't seen in another driver so far."

Explaining that view, Vettel pointed to the natural talent Schumacher had in other machinery, having raced against him in karts and partnered with him at the Race of Champions.

But at the same time, he does think there will be a greater appreciation of Hamilton in the future.

"I looked up to Michael when I was a child and Lewis, I didn't look up to him when I was a child because I was racing him," he said. "So it's a different situation going in.

"But probably in another 10, 15 or 20 years time, there will be more admiration for that. Obviously, when you're still active, you're looking at yourself and not so many others, but as I said you cannot cherish him enough for what he has achieved."

After reaching the all-time wins record, Hamilton conceded he is struggling to put his success into perspective.

“I think it’s really hard to suddenly be rewriting history, that’s a very hard idea for me personally,” he said.

“I can only speak from my experience, but it’s really hard to compute that and put that into reality and meaning.

“Of course, I’ve looked at and I still watch other people who are cool legends in other sports who are chasing historic moments and titles and records that were broken by great legends in the past.

“But it’s different watching it from the outside than to be in it.

“What I can say is I’m not done yet. I still feel that I’m able to improve. I still feel like I’m driving at a really good level.”

As for the debate over who is F1's 'GOAT', Hamilton isn't too interested, insisting his main focus is on the causes he has put his voice to off the track.

“What’s been really clear to me is, yes, it’s so great having these wins. But I think the more important things are what you do out of the car,” he added.

“That’s really where I think the impact can be made.

“I’ve never, ever really wanted to be remembered other than to my family. But obviously, having these results, this journey that I’ve had with my fans, hopefully, they will remember me.

“I would imagine all of you want to be remembered for being a good human being and someone that actually cared about the world and did what they did with great intentions.

“It’s not the most important thing for me to be remembered as the best or the greatest because I have so much respect for those drivers in the past.

“I don’t feel like I need to compare myself to them because I’m different and we all are different and unique.”