Lewis Hamilton sits out on his own as the most successful Formula 1 driver in the history of the sport in terms of race wins. 

A crushing display en route to a commanding victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix - the biggest winning margin in 2020 at 25.592 seconds - earned Hamilton his 92nd career triumph, overtaking the previous benchmark set by Michael Schumacher

Hamilton now holds the all-time records for most wins, podiums, points, races led and pole positions. 

Eight wins from 12 races so far this season have launched Hamilton into a mammoth 77-point lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with five races remaining, putting the Briton well on course to equal Schumacher’s record tally of seven drivers’ world titles. 

Hamilton said he “owed it all” to his Mercedes team which has provided him with the equipment to charge to five of his six world championships since rolling the dice to leave the then-more competitive McLaren squad to join Mercedes for 2013, with a seventh crown now a formality. 

When he made the switch, Hamilton had amassed 21 grand prix wins across six seasons. In the eight years that have followed, he has notched up an incredible 71 victories. 

Hamilton admitted he could “only ever have dreamed of being where I am today” after F1’s first-ever race at Portimao - which is the 28th different venue he has stood on the top step of the podium at.

“Ultimately, I’m just very proud of the job that I felt like I was able to do and the things that I was able to overcome, but the job that we have done collectively as a team,” Hamilton said. “I just reminisce of the beginning when I joined the team, the decision that I took to join the team and then what we’ve done since.

“I knew that we would win championships. Did I think that we’d win as many as we have? No. Did I think that we’d win this many races? Of course not. But this is a phenomenal time for us and the great thing is it’s not just me that’s living the history, it’s the whole team, and I think everyone acknowledges and realises how much they are a part of it.

“I feel incredibly grateful to my teammates, to Valtteri for the contender he is and the teammate he is, pushing the team forwards. We’re generally rowing in the same direction whilst we are competing, and it’s been a privilege to work with him. What a time to be alive.”

Hamilton’s achievement drew admiration and praise from his rivals, including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who believes Hamilton will get to “well over 100” wins. 

SEE ALSO: What is Lewis Hamilton’s greatest F1 victory? Top 10 wins ranked

At 23, Verstappen has already taken nine victories despite never having a car capable of fighting for championships, with the Dutchman tipped by many to be the most likely driver to get close to Hamilton’s records in the future. 

Speaking after finishing third in Portugal, Verstappen revealed that Hamilton jokingly told him he is trying to get as many victories as possible before he retires to ensure his younger peer has to go until he is 40 years old to break his records.

“We were just talking about it… Lewis said that he keeps pushing because he wants to set it very high so I have to try and work hard to get there,” Verstappen said. “It’s amazing, what can you say? It’s an incredible achievement - 92 victories. I don’t think it stops there.

“I think it will go well over 100. He’s pushing me to go until I am 40 years old or something. It’s a good motivation as well. It’s incredible. It looks like he’s going for his seventh world title so it’s just very impressive.

“Everybody knows he’s very quick but I think what has been also been a very strong point is that he’s very consistent and he rarely makes a mistake, that’s why he got to these numbers so quickly. It’s very impressive.”

‘A lot of work still to do’ - Hamilton not done yet 

Amid a bizarre year disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Hamilton’s aims have shifted even further towards his off-track activism to raise awareness of subjects that matter the most to him, including global environmental issues and his ongoing fight against racism and inequality. 

As such, Hamilton has set himself twin goals for 2020; winning the 2020 world championship on track and fighting for equal human rights off it. Hamilton truly feels he has reached a hugely important chapter in his life in what he has labelled as a “special time” in history. 

On a sporting level, Hamilton may be coming towards the twilight years of his career at the age of 35, but his peerless Portimao performance proved he is still driving at his very best and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Set to sign a new Mercedes deal to continue F1’s most successful partnership into 2021 and beyond, Hamilton believes he is yet to reach his peak - an ominous prospect for the rest of the field. 

“I don’t believe in the saying that ‘the sky’s the limit’, it’s just a saying,” Hamilton replied when asked how far he feels he can stretch the record. “It depends how much we want it and how much we want to continue raising the bar. Going by our history together, just the way we work, we don’t sit back on our results. 

“We keep working, we keep elevating. Every race feels like it’s the first one. I don’t know how that’s possible after all these races but for me it does. 

“It’s just as challenging as the first and I think there’s a lot more for us to do, especially as we’re in this crazy time of the pandemic, we’re in this crazy time of having to also utilise our position as a business, as a leader in the business, for inclusivity, for diversity, there’s a lot of work to do. 

“So that keeps me inspired, my teammates that are continuously growing, my fans that are continuously learning through this process with us all, and our sport that is slowly changing - it’s a real special time. 

“I definitely sometimes wonder, ‘jeez I’m 35 years old’, I still feel physically strong but of course you wonder when is it going to tip over and when are you going to start losing performance. But shown by today it’s not yet.” 

Hamilton could have won many more races throughout his career and further victories will undoubtedly come his way before he eventually hangs up his helmet. 

Every step he takes from now will only further etch himself into F1 history.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...