The debate over where Sebastian Vettel stands among the all-time greats in Formula One has surely grown following his fourth consecutive World Championship, but new Williams driver Felipe Massa believes comparisons between him and past legends can’t be made.
“Drivers all start a lot earlier in F1 today – you cannot compare anyone of today with [Emerson] Fittipaldi, [Jackie] Stewart nor [Michael] Schumacher, who also arrived in F1 later than Vettel,” Massa told Brazilian magazine Total Race.
“And because of this reality, it increases the possibility of younger drivers taking more titles than in the past.”
Indeed, when Vettel had his first Formula One race in the 2007 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, he was only 19 years old.
As for the former World Champions that Massa lists, Fittipaldi was 23 upon his debut at the 1970 British Grand Prix, Stewart was 25 upon his debut in the 1965 South African Grand Prix, and Schumacher was 22 upon his debut in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix.
However, Massa still hailed Vettel for a job well done in 2013 and noted that his success wasn’t primarily due to the Red Bull RB9 machine he took to victory 13 times this past season.
“It [his achievements] is due to his talent, no doubt,” Massa said. “He is an excellent driver and he deserves everything he has won.
“Many people say he only wins because he has the best car. But the work he did [this year and in previous seasons] was amazing and continuing with a competitive car, he can win more.”
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).
However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.
However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.
Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.
In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth.
On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).
Check out the above video.
Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.
Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).