2020 will be a year remembered for many things. In the sporting world, it will go down as a year that belonged to Lewis Hamilton. In 2020 Lewis Hamilton broke the record for the number of podium positions, the number of race wins and is now tied for the highest number of F1 titles ever recorded. It shows Hamilton’s dominance in the sport over the majority of the last decade and as he is just 35 years old he has a lot of time left to make the gap between him and everyone else even bigger.
Lewis Hamilton recorded his seventh Formula 1 title victory in 2020 to now tie with Michael Schumacher. In the same year, he surpassed Schumacher’s 155 podium finishes and 91 race victories. It comes as no surprise to those who have been following the sport for a number of years as to say that Hamilton has dominated Formula 1 would be an incredible understatement, he has made the sport his own.
It is inevitable that the question is now being asked. Is Hamilton the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time? To those who are close to the man and know his winning drive and ambition, they say yes. Hamilton has shown incredible consistency that no other driver has ever shown. His cool and calm nature can not be undervalued and has been key to his success. The greatest attack that goes against Hamilton is simply that his car is too good. Watching Formula 1 it is common today to see the Mercedes car finish both first and second as it is simply a far superior machine compared to the rest of the field. This was clearly shown when George Russel stepped in for Hamilton for a race while the lead driver suffered from coronavirus. Russel had the fightest lap time of any racer that weekend and would have won the entire race if not for a mistake by the pit crew. The car is exceptional. Of course, Russel is also an incredible driver and will have a fantastic career.
However, Russel didn’t win that race and this is a point that is often forgotten. It is highly likely that if that same error had happened Hamilton would have made it back to a podium position. Russel tried and ended the race with a flat tire. Hamilton’s ability to understand how to grind out a win means that even when things go against him he manages to pull out a result. His discipline can not be second-guessed. He is in a car that is so much better than the field that many in his position would lose focus but he never does.
The gap between his car and the field is clearly larger than the gap between Schumacher and his competitors years ago. In addition, the entire race of formula 1 has now changed dramatically thanks to the introduction of DRS so comparisons are almost pointless.
Interestingly when experts and audiences are asked who was the greatest driver of all time, Hamilton does not come out on top but neither does Schumacher. The winner in these cases is always Ayrton Senna. Senna only had 41 race wins before his career was cut short from a horrible crash at the age of 34. Yet those who know the sport say that he had the most talent of any driver ever in history.
It is impossible to say who is the greatest F1 driver of all time. Unless we had each of the drivers alive at the same time and in the same car the debate can never be settled. Many F1 drivers today feel that if they had the same car as Hamilton they would win as many GPs too, but they don’t. Hamilton has that car because he is the best. The history books will now show him as the greatest driver of all time.