Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel, the defending Formula 1 World Champion, was asked to name who he thought could, from the drivers on the 2012 grid, could become all-time Formula 1 legends. The German, who was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, responded by singling out McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Greatness in sports is usually a matter of matches won, goals scored and world titles captured. It is easy to declare a Pete Sampras or Roger Federer as being one of the most supreme tennis professionals of all time; the statistics - Sampras' haul of 14 Grand Slam titles in 15 years and Federer's stunningly impressive 16 crowns - make it impossible to argue. Similarly, the fact that former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher is ranked as one of the greatest champions in the history of Formula 1 is difficult to argue against.
The immensely talented and dedicated German was controversial (he continues to be so!), yes... but his race wins (a record 91 triumphs), pole positions (68, again a record) and a staggering seven World Champion titles means he is still the benchmark for modern day drivers. Frighteningly, Schumacher is still racing, t the age of 40, and if his first podium position of the season (at Valencia, in the European Grand Prix) is any indication, he isn't done.
"The ones that stand out are probably Fernando, he's one of the most complete drivers. Lewis is very, very quick. There are plenty of others. Michael [Schumacher] is still in the game. I don't think he has lost it," the two-time World Champions told BBC.
Meanwhile, accolades for the race win in Valencia aside, Ferrari have confessed they cannot afford any complacency as they continue to hunt down Red Bull and McLaren at the sharp end of the race for the constructors' championship. Alonso has also admitted to concern, Vettel's praise notwithstanding, over the pace of the Red Bull team in Valencia. The defending champions were already one of the fastest cars on the grid, having secured pole position in four of the last five races but it was their race pace in the last Grand Prix that most troubled him.
Pirelli to Bring New Tyre Compound to Silverstone
Meanwhile, in other trackside news, French tyre manufacturer Pirelli have confirmed they will test a new compound during practice sessions for the 2012 British Grand Prix (read an IBTimes UK preview to the weekend's race). The new compound, Formula1.com reports, will be used during the Free Practice sessions on Friday.
"Silverstone is one of the most iconic circuits on the Formula One calendar, precisely because it is so demanding for the drivers, cars and tyres," commented Pirelli's motorsport director, Paul Hembery, in the Formula1.com report, adding, "This is why we have chosen to test a new experimental hard compound here during free practice, which we may use in the future. The new tyre has a slightly wider working range, which should make it easier for the teams to get the tyres into the right operating temperature window. But with the championship so finely balanced, our priority is to ensure that no one team is handed any particular advantage."
There are strict regulations in place regarding the numbers of tyres set each driver is allowed. However, the new compound will not count towards the regulation hard and soft compound sets allocated for the weekend. Instead, each team will have two sets of the experimental compound at their disposal.
Penalties for Kamui Kobayashi and Jean-Eric Vergne
Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi and Torro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne will both receive grid penalties (five and ten places, respectively) for the weekend's British Grand Prix after accidents involving Ferrari's Felipe massa and Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia.
Marussia Driver Timo Glock Fit for Silverstone
Marussia F1 driver Timo Glock, who withdrew from the European Grand Prix, has been declared fit, according to the Daily Mail, to compete this weekend at Silverstone.
"Generally I am feeling much better. I still feel a little weak in the legs, but otherwise I am okay. It was obviously very disappointing that I was forced to miss the race in Valencia, but that is the way it goes sometimes," the former Toyota driver said.
Stay tuned to IBTimes UK's coverage of the 2012 Formula 1 British Grand Prix, as we continue to bring you race previews, driver quotes and tactical analyses, ahead of the weekend's race!