Martin Whitmarsh is a former McLaren Racing CEO who parted ways with the team early in 2014. In a recent interview, he was asked about his memories of different drivers. He also proceeded to give his views on a comparison between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.
Whitmarsh was asked about his memories with the drivers he knew and worked with during his stint at McLaren. He answered, “I’ve got many happy memories of Jenson Button, Mika, Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, even Fernando… Extraordinary people in many ways.”
All admittedly wonderful drivers who have left their legacy in Formula 1 racing. Whitmarsh further distinguished two drivers from the rest. “But the two who hover in my personal experience, that have had this aura of ‘incredibleness,’ was Ayrton Senna and Lewis.”
He then mentioned how Ayrton Senna’s aura was already present, but Lewis grew into exhibiting such an aura. He explained, “When I met Ayrton he had that already, but when I first met Lewis he didn’t. It has grown, and it’s all his doing, his achievement. I was fortunate to have been close to the journey.”
Whitmarsh witnessed Schumacher as a foe when Mika Hakkinen was driving for McLaren with Whitmarsh as the CEO. He clarifies that he is not balanced on his views about Schumacher.
He says, “He was always the foe, the dirty one trying to cheat against my driver, so I’m not balanced about Michael.”
On his comparison of Schumacher with Lewis, he acknowledged that Lewis was as ruthless, but pointed out a key difference. He said, “Lewis is ruthless, but he wants to win in a genuinely honest and honourable way. I don’t think that mattered to Schumacher.”
He further went on to mention some instances of fouls that glorify Schumacher’s win at any cost mentality. “The ‘professional fouls’ of Adelaide 1994, Jerez 1997 and Monaco 2006 will always cloud Schumacher’s reputation”.
Furthermore, he discussed the race of Spa in 2000, wherein Schumacher endangered Mika’s life in a lap and on the very next lap, the Finn got his revenge by passing the German’s Ferrari.
Whitmarsh added, “You have got to admire people who maintain a degree of innocence and sincerity, like Lewis and Mika, who never pulled a dirty move.”
Lewis Hamilton holds the record for most poles in a career. In Portimao, Lewis broke Schumacher’s record for most wins in Formula 1 history. He is well on his way to equal Schumacher’s record of most world championships.
With the way Lewis is progressing, it does seem like he is going to break that record by next year, and it couldn’t have come any faster.