Lewis Hamilton is used to making history, and in a rain-soaked Turkish Grand Prix, the Englishman put his name back in the record books when he equaled Michael Schumacher’s record seven world titles.
To win the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship at Istanbul Park, the Mercedes driver needed to finish ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and he did so with ease in often treacherous conditions, securing a fourth consecutive title by winning the race after starting sixth.
Hamilton, 35, last month overtook Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 Grand Prix wins to become the sport’s most successful driver and had long since broken the record for career pole positions by the german
Should he stay in the sport, Hamilton is expected to add to his tally of world titles. But whatever he achieves in the coming years, his place in F1’s pantheon is assured.
“To all the kids who dream of the impossible, you can do it too, I believe in you,” Hamilton said on his radio after crossing the finish line for his 94th Grand Prix win.
It was brilliant driving by one of the all-time greats. After poor practice and qualifying sessions this weekend, questions were raised about whether Hamilton could win in Turkey. In wet conditions, it was Hamilton’s decisive tire call that ultimately proved pivotal, with the Mercedes driver taking control midway through the race.
After securing victory, Hamilton hugged his team and, with tears in his eyes, told Sky Sports he was “at a loss for words”.
“I have to start by saying a huge thank you to all the guys that are here, and all the guys that have come back to the factory… I couldn’t do this without joining this team and the journey that we’ve been on it’s been monumental,” he said.
“I want to thank the LH team for being with me all these years and my family. We dreamed of this when I was young and this is way beyond our dreams.”
Hamilton, who has equaled a record many thought was untouchable when Schumacher won his seventh title in 2004, received congratulatory messages from his teammates, sports stars around the world and the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.
“Massively deserved,” tweeted the former world champion Nico Rosberg, a former Mercedes teammate of Hamilton and one of the few drivers to finish ahead of Hamilton in the championship during the Briton’s 14-year career.
Former Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand he tweeted that his compatriot was “the greatest sportsman this country has ever produced, hands down.”
Johnson tweeted: “A stunning win – well done @LewisHamilton! You’ve made us all very proud.”
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished more than 31 seconds behind Hamilton in second, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third. Finishing 14th, Bottas – the only man who could have denied Hamilton the title – was dragged by his teammate and finished without points.
Driving the same Mercedes machinery, Bottas’ performance illustrated just how much of a superior talent Hamilton is. No one has come close to challenging the world champion in this truncated season and he has secured the title with three races remaining, having won four races in a row and 10 of 14 races so far this year.
No driver has been as successful on the track as Hamilton, and no F1 world champion has used his stature like Hamilton, the sport’s first and only black world champion in its 70-year history.
The 35-year-old has long been the face of his sport – his dominance and heart-on-sleeve personality have made him arguably the most recognizable British athlete on the planet – but, especially in 2020, he became one of Britain’s leading sportsmen. voices that support the Black Lives Matter movement and, consequently, the voice of their sport as well.
Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton said campaigning for equal rights had made him “far more proud” than the prospect of a seventh world title.
But as the checkered flag waved, it became clear what this title means to this once-in-a-generation talent.
“All my life I’ve probably dreamed so high, secretly, but it felt so far-fetched. Seven is just unimaginable,” Hamilton said at the podium.
“I feel like I’m just getting started, it’s very strange. I feel physically in great shape and mentally, this year has probably been the hardest for millions of people.
“I know things always look good from here on the big stage, (but) it’s no different for athletes. This has been a challenge, I didn’t know how to overcome it. I managed to keep my head above water and stay focused…