Lewis Hamilton won the 2021 Russian Grand Prix and thus brings his tally of F1 career victories to 100. After breaking Michael Schumacher’s record in 2020, Hamilton becomes the first F1 driver to reach “a century” of victories in the Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion is aiming now to the historic eighth title, even if for this latest record he will have to deal with Max Verstappen.
Hamilton arrived on the scene of the F1 in 2007 with many expectations on their shoulders. And to some extent, the then McLaren driver immediately made it clear what he is made of. He was on the podium in Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Monaco before winning the Canadian and US Grand Prix. And ten races had to pass before the English driver couldn’t get on a podium in a Grand Prix.
Even in this era where younger drivers have become increasingly competitive, it still takes some time for them to get used to the highest level of F1. An extraordinary start for Hamilton who managed to show his skills from day one in the pinnacle of motorsport. A correct foreshadowing of what would happen, but that certainly did not let us predict how far it would raise the bar in the next decade and beyond.
When Schumacher dominated in the 90s and 00s, for many insiders no driver would ever come close to what the German driver had achieved. Yet in what has been a relatively short time since then, Hamilton has managed to completely overturn these predictions. Despite the sudden boom in success early in his career and the demonstration of his skills, 100 F1 victories had never even been considered. An incredible, unexpected achievement, which should not be underestimated by the recent feeling of invincibility. Winning 100 Grands Prix is an incredible achievement, considering that only about 10% of F1 drivers have managed to win one
The debate is open: with 100 F1 victories is Hamilton the greatest ever?
Statistically speaking Hamilton is, no doubt, the greatest driver in the history of this sport. The English driver has won the most championships, has the record of GP won, and also boasts the most pole positions and podiums achieved. Regardless of the typhus, these are indisputable results. However, the old adage “statistics never lie” doesn’t ring true in Formula 1.
Cross-comparison between the drivers is almost impossible given the significant difference in circuits, cars and technology. For example, currently, F1 sees a record of 23 Grands Prix per season and 25 points available to the winner, plus the potential extra point for the fastest lap. It certainly wasn’t always like that. In the past, the seasons were lucky to see 15 races and a completely different, much tighter point system was in place.
Comparing the drivers of the same era is also almost impossible. It is often forgotten that theF1 is a team sport and some of the strongest drivers are not in the best teams at the peak of their careers. From this, Hamilton has certainly benefited and no one can dispute the fact that Lewis has driven the strongest car in the best team since the hybrid era was introduced. Obviously, the reverse is also true, that is to drive the best car in the best team and not win (see Lewis’ various teammates). For this Hamilton if it’s not “The best ever” for sure is in the cheeks of the best F1 drivers since this sport has existed. And this is indisputable.