Sebastian Vettel 'overrated' and Lewis Hamilton 'not on Michael Schumacher's level' claims Eddie Irvine
Eddie Irvine has hit out at Sebastian Vettel, who he describes as "overrated", and doesn't believe Lewis Hamilton is anywhere near the level of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, although reckons he's the best of his generation.
Four-time race winner Irvine, who finished runner-up to Mika Hakkinen in 1999 while driving for Ferrari, admitted he no longer watches F1 because it "bores" him due to a lack of danger – though he says a greater focus on safety is a good thing, it's now gone too far.
"I don't watch it anymore because it bores me," he told BBC NI. "It's too perfect and when you make a mistake you don't pay a price. I think the least you should do if you make a mistake is lose a lot of time.
"In the 1950s you got killed if you make a mistake, the 60s you could get killed, the 70s you hurt yourself most of the time and the 80s you hurt yourself some of the time.
"It's just got safer and safer. Which is a good thing but it's gone too far. I think we have ended up with something a bit mushy and not that interesting."
Irvine also questioned Vettel's talent and how he scored four back-to-back championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, and believes Hamilton is benefitting from a lack of competition which has allowed him to break some of Schumacher's records, but insists he is not on the same level as the 50-year-old.
"I think Vettel is good if he is at the front and doesn't have anybody to race. When you watch Lewis race, he's focused on racing and Lewis is really focused on getting ahead of the other guy," he added.
"Vettel, when he is racing someone, is focused as much on the other guy as he is on where he is going and inevitably crashes into the other guy, which happens nearly all the time.
"I think Vettel is a good driver, but as a four-times world champion, I just don't see it. I think he is massively overrated, he's a one-trick pony and Lewis has a much broader talent.
"I think Lewis is in a different league from all of them," explained Irvine. "He's not in Michael's league and I don't even think he is close, although he's racking up lots of wins. He's got the best car, there are more races and the competition is debateable.
"Lewis is an amazingly talented driver. When he first came to Formula 1 he was fantastic to watch and his overtaking was second to none. He's probably a better overtaker than Michael was, but for pace, and consistency over a whole weekend, over a whole year, I don't think anyone touches Michael, [not] even Senna."