Lewis Hamilton may be trailing Michael Schumacher in terms of outright wins and titles, but the Brit is "miles above" the great German as an F1 world champion according to Jacques Villeneuve.
Hamilton is on the verge of equaling the five world championship crowns won by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, the Mercedes driver only needing to outscore rival Sebastian Vettel on Sunday in Austin to achieve the feat.
However, with 71 Grand Prix wins the 33-year-old still needs to boost his tally by 20 victories and two titles to match Schumacher.
For the always outspoken Villeneuve, Hamilton stands a good chance of catching and overhauling Schumacher in the coming years.
"I would rate Lewis above Michael, by miles," Villeneuve told Reuters at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin.
"The Mercedes era will be difficult to stop with these rules," he said.
Surprisingly, the 1997 world champion admitted that Schumacher wouldn't even make his top-five list of all-time F1 greats on which he puts Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart and Hamilton.
"There’s been too many negative stories," added Villeneuve.
"Too many question marks on how some races or championships were won. And being a great champion is more than just winning races.
"There’s very little negativity," said the 47-year-old, referencing Hamilton's career.
"You can like or not the way he is in life but there’s nothing nasty or negative with it. There’s nothing nasty toward his opponents. There’s respect toward his opponents.
"There’s no question mark on ‘Is he cheating or not? Has he been dirty?’. That makes a big difference.
"And that’s how every champion should be. He shouldn’t just be neutral."