Hamilton enters this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tied on points with Max Verstappen as the two F1 title protagonists prepare to face off in a winner-takes-all showdown to be crowned 2021 world champion.

Should Hamilton triumph to an eighth world championship, he would surpass the F1 record he currently shares with Schumacher.

For that reason, Aston Martin’s Vettel is backing Verstappen to claim his maiden F1 world title.

“Michael is my hero, for that reason I probably don’t want Lewis to win,” Vettel said on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.

“But the truth is they both had a strong season and they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win the championship because they both deserve it.

“In a way, I would be happy if Michael’s record still stands, but even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest.

“Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships - it doesn’t change anything for me.

“I get along with Lewis, so as I said, probably the gut says I want Max to win just to keep Michael’s record alive but my head is quite clear in terms of may the better man win.”

A Verstappen title win would see him become the first non-Mercedes world champion in F1 since Vettel secured his last crown with Red Bull in 2013.

But the four-time world champion does not care if Verstappen takes his record.

“I don’t care,” he said. “The team has changed a lot, some people left a long time ago, like me. Others are still there. It would be great to see them winning.

“For the constructors’ it’s obviously got a bit harder in terms of the points they dropped back after the last race, but I’d be happy for them to win the championship because I have such nice memories. It would be nice for them as well.

“From a driver’s point of view, both deserve it. From a team’s point of view, I am for sure closer to Red Bull than I am to Mercedes and it would be nice if they would get another championship.

“My record doesn’t list anywhere, so it’s okay.”

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And what would Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time world champion, think of his father’s long-standing F1 record being overtaken?

“Nothing is decided yet, so I can’t tell you how I’ll feel about it,” said the Haas rookie when asked that question.

“My fingers are crossed for both of them. Obviously it is only those two remaining who can win the championship, so it will be for sure interesting to see. Whoever wins will win, I can’t do anything about that.”