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.”