Irvine: Today’s drivers are good but not on Schumacher’s level
Speaking to Motorsport-Total, former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine has labeled Sebastian Vettel an “arrogant, well educated kid” while insisting that no driver of the current generation is in the league of his former teammate and Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher.
Irvine was a Ferrari driver from 1996 until 1999, years he spent playing second fiddle to Schumacher at Maranello. The Irishman insists that Schumacher is in another class when compared to Vettel.
He explained, “Michael was quite exceptional. Even when things were going really bad, he worked with Todt to hold the whole thing together, which was quite amazing.”
“In my day there was, after [Ayrton] Senna’s death, only Michael. No one could drive a car like Michael Schumacher. That is what helped Ferrari at the time, because they could never point a finger at him. Rightly so because he was never to blame.”
“When we were teammates I knew I was not as good as Michael. When I saw Michael drive I realised he could do things I could not do with the car. Mika [Häkkinen] was perhaps better than the rest of us but Michael was better than him too.”
Of today’s drivers, Irvine said, “Vettel is a arrogant, well educated kid and damn good driver, but not on Michael’s level, Lewis [Hamilton] is a damn good driver, but everyone knew Michael was on a different level.”
However the Irishman is adamant that arrogance is part of the DNA of successful Formula 1 drivers, “This is how we behave. I was just like that, and so is Lewis [Hamilton], look at [Fernando] Alonso, these guys are arrogant, that’s what drives them to get into Formula One.”
“When they arrive in Formula 1, with so much admiration feted over them, their narcissism is kindled, their arrogance, and all the other horrible qualities which do not make us nice humans.”
“Today who is the best? Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton? Ultimately it’s only your personal taste,” opined Irvine who made 146 grand prix starts, winning four times as a Ferrari driver.