LONDON (Reuters) – Jean Todt, who presided over Michael Schumacher’s golden years at Ferrari, says he would have to congratulate Lewis Hamilton if the Briton smashes the great German’s Formula One records – even if he would prefer them to remain intact.
Six times world champion Hamilton enjoys a 30-point lead in the championship after four races and, with Mercedes dominant, is set to equal Schumacher’s seven crowns.
The 35-year-old, who won his home British Grand Prix for a record seventh time at Silverstone on Sunday despite a dramatic last-lap puncture, is also only four victories short of the German’s record 91.
On current form, Hamilton can equal that at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September and surpass it a week later at Ferrari-owned Mugello — where the Italian team will mark their 1,000th world championship grand prix.
“If you have a link to the records, you’d like the records to stay,” former Ferrari boss Todt, now president of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), told reporters at Silverstone.
“On the other side, normally a record has a duration in life. All the records are due to be broken.
“Clearly Mercedes and Lewis are putting everything together to bring the record… clearly it’s admirable. If it’s well-deserved, you can only congratulate him.”
The Frenchman led Schumacher to five championships in a row between 2000-04 when the Italian team were as dominant as Mercedes now.
The Schumacher era, despite Ferrari fans looking back on it fondly as the team struggles, was also sometimes dubbed ‘Formula Yawn’ for the predictability of the outcome.
Todt, who became particularly close to Schumacher and his family, said he respected and admired Mercedes’ continued achievements but with some reservations.
Mercedes have taken the last six drivers’ and constructors’ titles and have won all four races so far with four pole positions.
“I admire the competitivity, the reliability, the durability,” said Todt.
“But for the sport I think like all of the people who like things more unpredictable, they would like to see more change.”
Todt said both Schumacher, who has not been seen in public since suffering severe head injuries in a 2013 skiing accident, and Hamilton shared a “special fighting spirit’ and spoke also of his respect for the Briton’s anti-racism campaigning.
“I do admire people who engage for something where they feel they can bring something,” he said. “If he can bring something to that, I admire that and as much as we will be able to contribute we will do it.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)