Where exactly does Lewis Hamilton fit in when it comes to the all-time sporting greats?
This has been an ongoing discussion since Hamilton claimed his record-equalling seventh world championship last season.
In addition, it also led to calls for Hamilton to be knighted after he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record, something that eventually happened at the end of last year.
However, according to six-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, he should not actually even be considered as one of sport's all-time greats due to his Mercedes car giving him an unfair advantage.
Indeed, when comparing both his and the Mercedes driver's achievements in their respective fields, ‘The Rocket has likened it to him having ‘bigger pockets’ to aim for.
O’Sullivan said, as per The Sun: “I just think sport is where there is no advantage. I wouldn’t have felt as good about my career in snooker if I had been playing on a table where the pockets I was using were bigger than my opponents.
“If you have a car that is going a second a lap quicker than the other cars, in theory all he has to beat is his teammate [Valtteri] Bottas — who seems to be happy playing second fiddle.
"If your car is going around quicker you can afford to make a few mistakes and still get away with it.
"It’s a bit like driving around smoking a cigar with one finger on the wheel!"
Fans of Hamilton and Mercedes can certainly point to this season in particular not being the case, as the current world champion trails Max Verstappen’s Red Bull by 14 points in the Drivers' Championship after a tough outing in Monaco, where the Brit finished down in seventh place.
There were also significant signs last season as well that Verstappen was going to pose a challenge to the Mercedes drivers as the Dutchman finished just nine points behind Hamilton’s teammate Bottas.
Nevertheless, O’Sullivan has listed the likes of tennis stars Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, darts player Phil Taylor, golf’s Tiger Woods and footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as his seven greatest sportsmen. He also argued that they were all, unlike Hamilton, competing on a level playing field.
"It doesn’t mean as much as say a sport like tennis with Federer playing everyone on a level playing field, or Kipchoge running against everyone on a level playing field.
"So for me, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Phil Taylor in darts, Tiger Woods, Messi, Ronaldo… it’s there to see."
Indeed, nobody can argue that the names listed by ‘The Rocket’ are not all-time greats. Federer currently shares the record number of Grand Slam title wins (20) with Nadal, while Djokovic is just two titles behind (18).
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, meanwhile, retired with 214 professional darts titles to his name, which included a record 16 World Championships. Woods has also achieved remarkable success in the world of golf and then there is Messi and Ronaldo, who are arguably two of the greatest footballers of all time.
There is, therefore, no doubt that the names listed by O’Sullivan are true sporting greats, however, his comments concerning Hamilton certainly sparked a huge amount of debate among sports fans, particularly with what is currently unfolding in the early part of the 2021/22 F1 calendar, which promises to be an epic battle between Verstappen and Hamilton for this season's World Championship.News Now - Sport News