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Brawn hails Hamilton as 'one of the all-time greats'

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Ross Brawn, qualifying, Belgian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Formula 1's director of motorsport Ross Brawn believes that Lewis Hamilton is well on his way to taking a place as one of the all-time greats of the sport.

Brawn was commenting after Hamilton clinched his fourth world title at the weekend in the Mexican Grand Prix.

Hamilton has become one of only five drivers to have won four or more championships. The others are Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Juan Manuel Fangio.

"Lewis deserved this title," said Brawn, who was partly responsible for bringing Hamilton to Mercedes in 2013. "For much of the season he was chasing the leader, but after the summer break he found another gear."

Hamilton sealed the title at the weekend despite his worst result of the season - ninth place, a lap down on the leaders. However, Vettel had needed to win or take second place to keep the battle going. Instead he finished in fourth having clashed with Hamilton at the start.

"It's true that the way in which he clinched the crown in Mexico was unusual," commented Brawn. "It's not often a title comes your way when you've been lapped.

"However, I have personal experience of the fact that, as you approach the final small step, it can actually prove more difficult than the previous ones," he said, perhaps recalling winning the 2009 constructors title as team principal of Brawn GP. "It was probably one of those cases.

"It's not just a fourth title that promotes Lewis to the level of the greatest in our sport, the Schumacher's, Senna's and Fangio's," continued Brawn.

"It's the way he drove this year that really impressed me. Especially in recent races. Even when his car was not at 100 per cent he was able to produce some amazing drives

"So really, congratulations to him for a superb achievement."

Brawn recalled his own days working with Schumacher at Ferrari. That partnership set records many believed would never be broken - but now fans expect Hamilton to do just that.

"I think they are," Brawn said when asked whether Schumacher's records were under threat from Hamilton.

"When that happened I couldn't imagine it being beaten," he told Sky Sports F1. "But looking at the way that Lewis is performing, [they could.]

"You've got to say he's one of the greats comparable with any of the iconic characters in Formula 1. He made hard work of it [in Mexico], but apart from that he's been exemplary all year."

Although he already holds the record for number of pole positions, Hamilton still has a way to go to catch Schumacher in other areas. To date he's won 62 races compared to Schumacher's 91, and will need three more world titles to match Schumacher's tally.

"We all know how exceptional Michael was and his records have lasted for so long," Hamilton himself said this week. "There's one particular record which is going to be very hard for anyone to catch."

Hamilton will face increasing pressure over the coming seasons to maintain his run of success. Vettel will be aiming for revenge next season, and Ferrari will be pulling out all the stops.

"[Vettel] did his utmost to fight for the title until the very end, once again showing how genuinely quick he is," commented Brawn.

"He didn't do it, but I think that he and everyone at Ferrari can be proud of what they achieved this year.

"They have a great platform from which to start 2018," he added. "I expect to see an even stronger and more determined Ferrari next year, which should make for an even more enthralling season."

But Brawn feels the next generation of Formula 1 stars could be Hamilton's biggest obstacle to overhauling Schumacher's records.

"There are some great drivers coming through," Brawn noted. He singled out 20-year-old Max Verstappen for special praise, noting that the Dutch driver's win in Mexico had been "very Schumacher-like."

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