Lewis Hamilton further cemented his legacy as Formula One’s most successful driver when he won his 100th Grand Prix in Sochi on Sunday.
Hamilton already held the record for most victories after breaking Michael Schumacher’s mark of 91 in Portugal last October. His fifth victory in the Russian Grand Prix also put the 36-year-old Briton top of the driver standings and on course to break a tie (seven) with Schumacher for most driver titles.
It has been quite a ride.
Hamilton described becoming the first driver to win 100 Formula One races as “magical”
“I could only ever have dreamed of still being here and having this opportunity to win these races and get to drive against such phenomenal talent this late in my career.
“To continue to build with Mercedes, of which I’m so proud of everything we’ve done, not only on track but also off and yeah, this is just a special moment for everyone that has been a part of it. I’ve had the most incredible team.”
Hamilton won his first F1 race in Canada in 2007 as a 22-year-old and behind the wheel of a McLaren. His 99th victory came on home ground at Silverstone in July this year but it was achieved in controversial circumstances.
On the opening lap, Hamilton, determined not to let Verstappen escape, charged through on the inside. The Dutchman shut the door, hit Hamilton and careened out of the race. Hamilton served a 10-second penalty, then hunted down Charles Leclerc to grab an eighth home victory.
“There were moments where you didn’t even know if it was going to happen,” admitted Hamilton on the long wait to convert 99 into 100.”
Hamilton almost won the title in his first record-breaking season as he reeled off nine successive podiums from his debut in Melbourne, astonishing with his speed and his style. He narrowly missed the 2007 title, but in 2008 grabbed the fifth place on the final corner in Brazil to edge Felipe Massa by one point and at 23 become the youngest ever champion. He is now on the verge of breaking Schumacher’s long-held record of seven.
To those who have watched the Mercedes driver break one record after another, the century and eighth championship felt inevitable. The 36-year-old Briton has made a habit of breaking records. Here are some of them and some others which are also within his grasp:
Hamilton has won a record 100 Grands Prix out of 282 races since his debut in 2007, with at least one victory each year. Schumacher, second in this list, has 91 wins in 307 starts, the last of those coming in his 247th GP. Another German, Sebastian Vettel in third in the list, but the margin is vast at 53.
Most race wins
|Michael Schumacher||1991–2006, 2010–2012||308||91|
|Alain Prost||1980–1991, 1993||202||51|
By already winning five times this season, Hamilton has equalled another of the German’s records: his 15 consecutive seasons winning GPs, between 1992 and 2006. The Englishman in all probability will be able to break that record next year as he has extended his Mercedes contract until 2023.
In 2020, Hamilton dethroned Schumacher not only in number of victories but also podiums: it is now 176 against 155. A long way back in third is Vettel again, who moved to Aston Martin in 2021 and can add to this record at least.
|Michael Schumacher||1991–2006, 2010–2012||308||155|
|Alain Prost||1980–1991, 1993||202||106|
|Kimi Räikkönen||2001–2009, 2012–2021||346||103|
A master of qualifying, the Mercedes driver has held the pole position record since as long back as 2017, and hit that century in May this year in Spain. He took pole position in Hungary as well to take his tally to 101, ahead of Schumacher (68) and Ayrton Senna (65).
Most pole positions
|Michael Schumacher||1991–2006, 2010–2012||308||68|
Hamilton has yet to take Schumacher’s record for race hat-tricks, in which a driver takes pole position, clocks the fastest lap and wins the race. The German holds the record for hat-tricks with 22, four ahead of the Briton, and Schumacher has 77 fastest laps compared with Hamilton’s 57.
Schumacher also competed for 19 seasons in Formula One, a record he shares with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and the Finn Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton still has some way to go as he is only in his 15th year but has signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes which will bring him closer.
Hamilton holds, by far, the record for consecutive participations in Grand Prix with 265 races in a row from 2007 to 2020. That sequence ended in December when he tested positive for Covid-19, causing him to miss the Sakhir GP in Bahrain.
Hamilton has won the Hungarian GP eight times, each of them on the Hungaroring, and the British GP eight times at Silverstone, a record match only by Schumacher who won eight French GPs at Magny-Cours.
With AFP Inputs