It was seventh heaven for Lewis Hamilton on Sunday as he won a record-equalling Formula One world title with a brilliant victory at the Turkish Grand Prix.
His 94th career win that came in his 264th race was acclaimed as one of his best.
Hamilton’s world championships: SEVEN - 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Here’s a look back at the seven of Hamilton’s best over a career that began at Australian GP in 2007.
2007 – Canada (maiden win in his sixth race)
On a circuit that was to become one of his favourite hunting grounds, a 22-year-old Hamilton claimed his maiden F1 triumph to take over the lead of the championship, winning a brutal contest with four Safety Car interventions. In beating his then teammate Fernando Alonso at McLaren, he proved that the rare and precocious talent that saw him finish third on his debut in Australia was here to stay.
2008 – Britain (his seventh win in his 26th race)
Arguably the most famous and memorable victory of all, this was a titanic triumph for the Stevenage-born racer. He came to Silverstone from two point-less races and under pressure and he qualified fourth, but he passed team-mate and pole-sitter Heikki Kovaleinen to lead on lap five. In teeming rain, he drove with enthralling elan to win by 68 seconds. It was a landmark statement of his ability, a virtuoso wet-weather drive and it paved the way to his first dramatic title win accomplished by gaining a place at the final corner of the final race in Brazil. McLaren even asked him to slow down – to which he responded: “If I go any slower, I’ll lose concentration.”
2013 – Hungary (his 22nd win in his 120th race)
Many believed Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes, as successor to Michael Schumacher and team-mate to Nico Rosberg, was a risky move. A tyre failure had ruined his outing at the British Grand Prix, but he proved himself with this flawless, if unexpected, win in searing heat at the Hungaroring a few weeks later. He won from pole with notable passes of Jenson Button and Mark Webber following his pit stops. “If we win tomorrow, it will be a miracle,” Hamilton had forecast after qualifying.
2018 – Germany (his 66th win in his 219th race)
Ten years and four championships later, this race probably decided the outcome of the 2018 title race. Hamilton, from 14th on the grid due to hydraulics problems, stormed through the field and relentless heavy rain to a famous win while championship rival Sebastian Vettel ran off ignominiously into a gravel trap at Hockenheim’s Sachskurve in his Ferrari. It was the Englishman’s only win from outside the top ten on the grid. “I knew there was a chance to win when it started to rain,” he said. “I didn’t make any mistakes so I was very proud of that.”
2018 – Italy (his 68th win in his 222nd race)
On Ferrari’s home ground, in front of the passionate tifosi, this was a swashbuckling win for the purist racing aficionadas. Hamilton qualified third behind the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, but triumphed thanks to some bold passing moves and sheer determination. His audacity in passing Vettel on the opening lap was a crushing setback for the German’s race and title ambitions.
2019 – Monaco (his 77th win in his 235th race)
On an emotional weekend following the death of his friend and mentor Niki Lauda, this was a triumph of judgement and flawless defensive driving that confirmed Hamilton’s status as a legendary champion. He won pole and led, but Mercedes gave him ‘mediums tyres’ during an early Safety Car spell – an error that put him under intense pressure from Max Verstappen for 60 laps. “One of my hardest races and most strategic drives,” he said. The team dedicated their win to Lauda.
2020 — Turkey (his 94th win in his 264th race)
Hamilton secured a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title after winning the Turkish Grand Prix despite starting sixth on the grid to match Schumacher’s haul of crowns.
It was widely declared as one of his finest triumphs and entirely appropriate on the day he drew alongside Schumacher in the record books.
He lapped his team-mate and only remaining title rival Valtteri Bottas, who finished 14th after a desultory outing, to claim his 10th victory in 14 races this season.
Hamilton came home over half a minute clear of Sergio Perez for Racing Point. Both chose to make only one pit-stop and spend most of the race on a single set of intermediate tyres as their rivals pitted several times to cope with the slippery conditions.
Hamilton’s old rival, four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel, finished third ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz of McLaren and, after a wild and impulsive afternoon, Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull.
(With AFP inputs)