Michael Schumacher is one of the first names that comes to mind when someone discusses the best F1 drivers of all time. All fans are entitled to having their own favourite drivers and they can often debate their good qualities for hours at a stretch.
However, Michael was undoubtedly one of the most efficient drivers of his generation and has the record to back the claim that he was one of the finest racers the sport has seen.
However, a former race engineer isn’t convinced Michael was all that fast and instead believes that 3-race winner Heinz-Herald Frentzen displayed greater speed.
This comes from Sam Michael, who joined Williams in 1999 and was the main race engineer for Frentzen a year afterwards.
For Michael, Lewis Hamilton is perhaps the only other driver he has seen at Frentzen’s level.
Speaking on an episode of the Beyond the Grid podcast, Michael discussed his time in F1 in great detail with host Tom Clarkson.
While Hamilton is the best driver that Michael has ever seen, he said that Frentzen is the next best and not Schumacher.
In fact, Clarkson openly asked him if he thought Frentzen was a better driver, to which Michel emphatically answered saying yes.
Frentzen may well have been very fast, but he lacked the ‘complete package’ to become as successful as his pace may have led people to believe, at least that is the opinion of Michael.
Michael lauded Schumacher’s character and ability to get the most out of people around him for being the reason behind his success and longevity in the sport.
“It’s their ability to communicate with people,” Michael said.
“Work inside a team. The ability to manage your emotions. And understand when its a good time to be emotional and when not. There’s also teamwork. Working with mechanics and engineers around you and extract the most out of them.”
It is worth remembering that F1 is an extremely competitive sport where not every driver has an even chance of winning a race.
A combination of factors are responsible for long-term success and while Frentzen may not have reached dizzying heights like Schumacher and Hamilton, his three race wins and 18 podium finishes is no mean feat.