Hamilton is F1's biggest talent but Mercedes see 'opportunity' if he leaves

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Lewis Hamilton has more talent than Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, ex-Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello has claimed.

With six world titles and 84 wins to his name, the Mercedes driver is in the conversation to be consider as F1's 'GOAT' and this year he is also within reach of the benchmark seven championships and 91 wins the German legend achieved in his career.

But, as the only driver who can claim to have competed against Hamilton, Senna and Schumacher, Barrichello believes Lewis is already ahead. 

“Hamilton’s talent is probably even more than that of Ayrton or Schumacher," he told the Brazilian edition of ESPN.

“He simply lacked maturity early on his career but he has developed and now you can see the end product.”

At the same time, however, the nine-time Grand Prix winner admits each man excels in different areas.

“The perfect driver would have Ayrton’s skill, Schumacher’s courage and Hamilton’s coordination,” he added.

As Hamilton prepares to go for championship No.7 though, he does so with his future in F1 beyond 2020 currently marked as uncertain.

Recent renewals for Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc at Red Bull and Ferrari have made the possibility of the Briton staying at Mercedes more likely, and a new two-year-old deal has been touted.

But, if the 35-year-old opted to move on or retire, team boss Toto Wolff insists the team would cope.

"A sports team is not static, it's a dynamic structure,” he told FormulaRapida. “That means there is always going to be some change, and change is something that can also provide opportunity.

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“I know that sounds like a little bit of philosophical guru talk, but when Nico [Rosberg] decided to quit [in 2016], my initial reaction was actually the opportunity provided to us, and I think that the choice with Valtteri [Bottas] proved to be the right choice.

“So, I still very much hope that our relationship [with Hamilton] continues," the Austrian added. "I think there will be no doubt that Lewis is our priority.

"But understanding Lewis’ position and objectives will be key for any decision that we take and I am not totally in control of that."