A fourth-place finish in the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday was enough to secure a fourth world title in five years for Lewis Hamilton, his fifth in total.
The Brit is now level with Juan Manuel Fangio in second place for the number of championships won, with Michael Schumacher ahead by two. While the question of whether Hamilton is or can be the best there’s ever been has been muted before, his latest title victory has seen the debate open once again.
The first thing to note is that he’s in that discussion, he’s one of the best to ever compete in the sport, that’s not up for debate. His 5 title wins and the fact that he’s won 71 races, which is only 20 short of Michael Schumacher’s record, is enough proof that he’s up there with the greatest. Hamilton also averages 10 wins per season and has done for the last five years, so he could easily go on to break Schumacher’s win record by 2020.
Many would suggest that Hamilton’s success has been built on his ability to qualify, and to qualify well. This is one area where Schumacher doesn’t reign supreme, as the Brit has a record 81 poles to his name, with the German’s tally finishing on 68. Hamilton is a record breaker in this respect, and he could quite easily go on to take his record into three figures over the next couple of seasons.
Hamilton has also shown over the years that he has the mental toughness and resilience required to be one of the greats too. Just taking last season as an example, Vettel was in control of the title race, but Hamilton plugged away, got his nose in front, and then pulled away from his nearest rival. To be the best, you must be able to cope with all aspects of the sport, which includes the mental side of things. Whatever is thrown at Hamilton, he deals with it, and this is the mark of a great.
After wrapping up his fifth world title at the weekend, nobody can be left in any doubt as to whether Hamilton is the greatest of this era. He’s proven it time and time again and continues to improve season after season. He’s left Sebastian Vettel behind for the second season running, proving himself to be the undisputed champion right now, and that’s likely to be the case next season too.
He may not be the greatest of all time just yet, but he can be, or should we say he will be? Michael Schumacher’s records are well within his grasp and Hamilton could even reach these targets in the next three seasons, with 8 world title wins surely the aim for the Brit. The record for the most race wins of all time will come first, with Hamilton well on course to be the best F1 driver in history.