Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel's F1 domination risks putting fans to sleep
Merc driver admits he used to doze off during Schumacher era
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 07/10/13 3:54pm
Lewis Hamilton says he has sympathy with fans who are finding Sebastian Vettel's sustained success hard to watch - and drawn an unflattering comparison between the current era of F1 and when he used to "fall asleep" during Michael Schumacher's decade of dominance.
After winning for the fourth race in a row at the Korean GP on Sunday, Vettel could win his fourth consecutive world championship as early as this weekend's Japanese GP with four rounds of the 2013 campaign still to go.
The Red Bull driver has now won six of the last eight races, and eight in total this season, and since his first title-winning year of 2010 has triumphed in 40% of the 72 races staged during that time.
Four in a row compared
Title years: 2000-03.
Win rate: 52%.
Title years: 2010-12, 2013?
Win rate: 40%.
That relentless form means Vettel now stands on the brink of emulating his countryman and friend Schumacher, along with 1950s star Juan-Manuel Fangio, in winning four drivers' titles on the spin.
When Schumacher wrapped up the fourth of his unprecedented five straight titles in 2003, Hamilton was a rising 18-year-old star in Formula Renault and watching the top level of TV, and speaking in the wake of F1's current dominant driver winning again in Korea, the Mercedes driver drew a direct comparison between the two eras.
"I feel for the fans because I remember the period of time when Michael Schumacher was winning," Hamilton was widely quoted in the British press as saying.
"I remember waking up in the morning to watch the start of the race and then going to sleep, and then waking up when it ended because I already knew what would happen.
"I am pretty sure a lot of people were doing that, at least in my family."
While Vettel again spent most of Sunday's 55-lap race running in relative comfort at the front of the field, fellow World Champions Hamilton and Fernando Alonso - the two men who are consistently ranked alongside the German when the sport's current top drivers are named - suffered frustrating races and ended up finishing behind the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton suggested that both he and Alonso deserved to be fighting much higher up the field too.
"It's strange, you know. Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end, and having our own little battle, we are of higher calibre than that. We should be further ahead and fighting with the world champions at the front, and with Sebastian," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
"I guess that shows where the sport is today."
Having declared his own 2013 title aspirations were over several races ago, Hamilton has since slipped back down to fourth in the standings having not finished on the podium since Spa.
And although the 28-year-old does believe he can move back into the top three in the drivers' table before the season is out, he admitted that helping Mercedes overhaul Ferrari, now just one point ahead, was the bigger priority.
"We are only one point behind Ferrari so we've got to make sure in these next five races we just consistently beat them. Second in the constructors' would be huge for us, so that's my goal to do that for the team," Hamilton told reporters.
"As for me, I've just fallen down to fourth in the Drivers' Championship. I still feel we can get higher so I'll try to do that."