Hamilton is the best there ever was
It’s a milestone that has looked inevitable for some time. Lewis Hamilton has one hundred Formula 1 victories to his name.
Following this achievement, one which has never before been seen in the sport, the question on the paddock’s mind is once again, could Sir Lewis be considered the greatest F1 driver ever to kiss the apex?
The trouble is, this question should have been dead and buried for some time. He absolutely is.
By almost any metric, Hamilton has been the most successful driver in the sport’s history. Alongside a century of wins, he also boasts a century of pole positions, 176 to be exact, and will conceivably reach two centuries of podiums by the time he retires.
That’s not to mention a staggering seven world titles, an achievement only matched by one man, Michael Schumacher. Should Hamilton win this season, which he could well do, he’d hold the record for the most championship wins of any driver.
While Schumacher was an icon and hero of the sport, undoubtedly talented and an all-time great, Hamilton might still have the edge. The difference being, Hamilton is still racing. He still has more to achieve.
And when looking back in history, we must acknowledge others such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, and Ayrton Senna, all of whom were special talents. But as talented and beloved as they were, none came to epitomise the sport and dominate it so thoroughly as Hamilton has.
Who is to say how much more Hamilton can accomplish? The man who has led more racing laps than any other continues to rack up kilometres with the rest of the field well behind him.
And you cannot ignore his off-track achievements either. His work campaigning for diversity and environmental awareness in motorsport and wider society has been admirable, the impact of which will surely be felt generations after Hamilton eventually retires.
But who said anything about retirement? Despite now being among the older drivers on the grid, Hamilton looks as energetic and sharp as ever and has successfully kept the young up-and-comers at bay so far.
His victory in Sochi highlighted how an experienced, calm head can prevail over the enthusiasm of youth. Fellow Brit Lando Norris’ decision to stay out in the rain, instead of pitting for intermediate tires, allowed Hamilton to be gifted victory in the last 5 laps of the race and claim the top step of the podium.
George Russell has looked sublime in the Williams this year and looks increasingly like a world champion in waiting, so should prove more of a challenge to Hamilton than the increasingly beleaguered and despondent Valtteri Bottas has. But it’s hard to see Russell coming out on top of that inter-team battle, especially in his first season.
And while Max Verstappen has taken the fight to Hamilton so far, he has been aided by driving the faster car, and yet still finds himself second in the championship. With it all still to play for, this year’s world championship could well go to the last race, and you wouldn’t ever write off Hamilton to produce the goods in the final moments. Lewis always seems to produce magic when it truly matters.
Behind much of Hamilton’s success has been the Mercedes team and the fantastic machinery they have provided him. But this should not take away from what are undoubtedly achievements born from Hamilton himself.
Image Credit: Morio via WikiMedia Commons