The last time an F1 Grand Prix was held in Portugal was 1996 and Lewis Hamilton was 11 years old, already the British karting champion. Now, 24 years later Hamilton broke F1’s all-time win record.
After growing up watching Michael Schumacher’s wins on television, Hamilton bettered Schumacher’s tally, something many thought would never happen following Schumacher’s 91st win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix. But, Hamilton now stands above him, with 92 victories – a singular achievement in Formula One history.
He now holds the all-time records for most wins, points, podiums, pole positions, and races led. It seems inevitable that Hamilton will win his seventh title soon – the last of Schumacher’s records left for Hamilton to break. After that, the only thing left for him would be to win his 100th victory and set yet another record for titles.
A staggering indicator of Hamilton’s superiority is that his tally is equal to Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna’s combined!
His rival, the Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, had nothing but words of support and admiration for Hamilton, saying that he deserved all 92 victories (many of which came at Vettel’s expense): “I’m happy for him, I think he deserves every single victory he had, so I think the number speaks for itself. I’m sure he will hit 100, I texted him before the race to get 92 so I’m sure he will continue to get even more, and I don’t think you can praise him enough,” said Vettel.
Hamilton won his first racing win when he was 13 years old and driving for McLaren. He won his first F1 race in 2007 and his first title in 2008. After Schumacher retired and Hamilton replaced him at Mercedes in 2013 his career really took off and he won five more F1 titles after that.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ head of motorsport, believes Hamilton’s achievements will be fully valued and understood only after he retires: “In 10 or 20 years we’re going to acknowledge what a special driver he was,”.
The best driver of all time?
The facts are clear and no one can dispute that Hamilton is the most victorious driver in F1 history. But is he the best driver of all time?
There is no doubt that he has a good claim, especially after breaking so many of Schumacher’s records – a man often deemed to have been the best ever in F1. But some still deem Mario Andretti to be the best driver ever. The reason is found in his very specific and unmatched resume: Andretti is the only driver who won Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One title.
If adaptability = greatness, then Mario Andretti is the greatest of all time for sure. He performed brilliantly in every type of car he drove and stacked up even more impressive wins like three USAC championships, and the 1984 CART title, on top of that legendary collection of Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, and the Formula One.
For some, it’s impossible to both recognize his “all-time greatness” and not simultaneously engage with the excitement that is NASCAR. A good indicator of how people perceive the sport is that wagering bets in this domain tend to be more interesting than F1. The nature of NASCAR means there are many more lead changes and many more drivers who have a realistic chance to win in any given race. As Legalbettng.com says, for example, these two motorsports are simply very different stylistically: NASCAR’s stock cards encourage tight racing around the sport’s mostly oval tracks, while F1 is all about maximizing speed – and for the top teams, the cost is virtually no object. And so with options like Outright Winner, Head-to-Head, Future Bets, and such, there are a lot more NASCAR betting options for punters than there are for Formula One.
Of course, Formula One has a lot to offer as well. It is exactly a driver like Andretti who is a great example of how racing, in general, can give you goosebumps, whether it’s Formula One, NASCAR, or any other. While Lewis Hamilton is an F1 specialist.
Still, even without being a cross-discipline superstar, Lewis Hamilton has many, not only professional but personal qualities as well, that adds to his claim of greatness.
More than “just a driver”
Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant driver, beloved and respected not only by fans but by his rivals as well.
In addition to that, in 2020 he became a social leader and a powerful voice for racial justice. As the most high-profile driver in the world, he had a great platform to promote anti-racist views and he did. Hamilton often wears a “Black Lives Matter” slogan on his clothes, and after winning in Italy in September he even spoke out for justice for Breonna Taylor.