Juan Manuel Fangio won his five titles with four different teams – Alfa-Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes and Ferrari – in 1954, the year of his second title, leaving Maserati following wins in both the opening races to join Mercedes on its F1 debut.
Lewis Hamilton, has won his four titles, thus far, with two teams, McLaren and Mercedes, his move to the German manufacturer in 2013 in some ways as big a gamble as Fangio’s almost sixty years earlier.
Ahead of a weekend which could well see him secure his fifth title, the Briton was asked what the name Fangio means to him, and whether he can envisage himself muscling cars like the Mercedes-Benz W196, Alfa-Romeo 159 or Lancia-Ferrari D50.
“I have driven some of those cars,” he replied. “Stirling Moss’s car I’ve had a go in, some of the Silver Arrows they had, around the old Monza circuit, for example, with Sir Stirling, which is pretty intense.
“It’s always really strange to hear the drivers’ mental philosophy back then,” he continued. “Sir Stirling would say you’d want to fall out if the car’s going to crash: you hope that you get thrown out the car. It’s a much more confined space for us. It’s all about being stuck in and being safe. I would have…
“I don’t know if the 50s was a particularly good time, it wasn’t a great time for black people either, so probably I wouldn’t have been racing back then, but I’m grateful to be in this era and with the technology that we have and seeing the cars advance. I’m so grateful to be part of this era.
“Fangio is always… he’s like the godfather of the drivers’ sport for us,” he added. “He’s the godfather for us, one of the greats from the beginning and will always be admired in the sport.
“It is crazy to think that I’m embarking on a similar number of championships that he had.”