Sebastian Vettel said he was happy to be able to be on the track when Lewis Hamilton clinched his seventh world championship, as the F1 world paid tribute to the British driver’s historic achievement.
Although Vettel has admitted it has been difficult to see Hamilton match and, in many cases, surpass the all-time records set by his childhood hero Michael Schumacher, the four-time champion has been fulsome in his praise of his generational rival’s landmark achievements.
Vettel shared the podium with Hamilton at Istanbul Park on Sunday, finishing third in his best result of a disappointing final Ferrari season, and personally congratulated the new seven-time champion when the Mercedes driver parked up in parc ferme.
“He drove fantastically well,” said Vettel to Sky Sports F1 after Hamilton won from sixth on the grid in challenging wet conditions.
“In all fairness, it’s a good result for us but it’s his day if you make history like that. The first thoughts go to him really.
“It’s a massive achievement. I’m happy I can witness [it] firsthand.”
Hamilton was showered with praise from across the paddock.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is the man tipped by many to eventually succeed Hamilton as the sport’s leading driver, said: “It was pretty obvious of course that he was going to win it, but it’s incredible. Very strong driver, of course also today, and he’s I guess now the greatest driver in Formula 1 in terms of stats.
“A great result for the whole team as well, they have been so dominant. They definitely deserve it.”
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had started the race alongside Hamilton on row three, said: “I saw him for the first few laps and I was like maybe we’ll be ok today – but then he nearly lapped me!
“To finish the season three races before the end with the title in a shortened season, it’s domination. What can I say? Another one, seven times, so big congrats to Lewis.”
Rosberg sends Hamilton congratulations
The friends turned team-mates turned arch rivals of the early years of the Mercedes’ era of dominance, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg waged the fiercest title battles of recent time in 2014-2016.
Rosberg, the last man to deny Hamilton the title four years ago before retiring from F1, sent his congratulations on social media after the race.
7 x World Champion – that’s insane! Massively deserved. Surely one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports. Congratulations Lewis and enjoy the celebrations with your family and friends. #TurkishGP #F1
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) November 15, 2020