There is no question that Lewis Hamilton is the most successful F1 driver of all time.
With his race win in Portugal in October, he surpassed Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 triumphs. With his championship win, he equalled Schumacher’s record of seven titles.
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Sebastian Vettel – a four-time world champion himself – congratulated him by declaring: “He is the greatest of our era for sure.
To me emotionally Michael will always be the greatest driver but there is no doubt that Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved.
“He has equalled the championships, he has more races won, he has a lot more pole positions.”
Remarkable Hamilton equals Schumacher’s tally of seven world titles
He also has a brilliant car, of course, and the backing of a fantastic team. Thanks to Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes have won all but two of the races this season – and in one of the two races that neither of them won, they finished second and third (at Silverstone).
There is no sign of any other team or any other driver being able to challenge Hamilton any time soon. If he wants that eighth title, surely it is there for the taking next year.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates winning a 7th F1 World Drivers Championship as he walks onto the podium, applauded by third placed Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Turkey
Image credit: Getty Images
But Hamilton – who has spoken throughout his career about the racist abuse he has faced as the acknowledged first Black driver in F1 history – has taken on a crucial role in 2020 beyond the track, and perhaps it is here that his future lies.
Shortly after he secured his record-equalling title win, he took to social media, reflecting on his year – and pointing out that his most significant headlines this year have been through his protests for social justice and raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This year I’ve been driven not just by my desire to win on the track, but by a desire to help push our sport and our world to become more diverse and inclusive,” he wrote.
“I promise you I am not going to stop fighting for change. We have a long way to go but I will continue to push for equality within our sport, and within the greater world we live in.
Equalling Michael Schumacher’s record puts a spotlight on me that I know won’t be here forever. So while you’re here, paying attention, I want to ask everyone to do their part in helping to create a more equal world.”
Sporting careers – even those of record-breaking champions – are ultimately short. This comparatively brief time at the top commands headlines and cameras, and Hamilton is clearly set on using it for a broader cause than self-publicity.
It’s possible, even, that he is already making his plans for how best to use this media attention – could it be that retiring in a blaze of glory will sustain interest for longer than competing in another elongated motor-racing season?
Nothing can stop Hamilton…except maybe Hamilton himself deciding he has more important work to do now.
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