5 more milestones Lewis Hamilton can reach in 2020
In a year where he's seemingly breaking records at every race, here's a look at what Lewis Hamilton could still do at the final 6 rounds in 2020
It feels like not a single race goes by these days without Lewis Hamilton breaking some kind of record. His route to sporting immortality is arguably in its’ most significant year statistically, having just equally Michael Schumacher’s seemingly impossible 91 wins, en-route to a record 7th title. The GOAT debate will rage on, but Hamilton is firmly putting himself at the top of many leaderboards, epitomised by the beautiful moment in which he was presented with one of Schumacher’s helmets by his son, Mick. It was almost fitting that the win record was matched in Germany, and taking that particular crown outright surely won’t be the only milestone Hamilton reaches before the year is out. Here’s 5 more he’s likely to reach in the remaining 6 races of the 2020 season.
1 – Equalling Michael Schumacher’s 7 world titles
Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Schumacher's records is his 7 titles. Fresh from taking the win record, Hamilton is on the verge of this milestone and for the 4th consecutive year, will surely wrap it up with races to spare. It could be achieved in 2 races time in Imola, a place of great significance to Schumacher and Ferrari, as with where the pole and win records fell. If Hamilton outscores teammate Valtteri Bottas by 9 points at the next race in Portimao, this will be mathematically possible. Either way, it will almost certainly happen before the season finale in Abu Dhabi, leading to another new venue for Hamilton to take the title, at Istanbul or one of the Bahrain circuits. You’d expect this is one of the many bars yet to be fully set by Hamilton before his career ends, as he will surely begin 2021 as hot favourite for an 8th.
2 – 100 pole positions
Hamilton unusually struggled on a Saturday in 2019, taking only 4 poles to his 11 wins, less than both Bottas and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. However, it’s a testament to his unwavering drive for perfection that he’s immediately rectified this in 2020, putting him on the verge of an unprecedented century. Arguments over the greatest in the sport’s history will rage on forever, but qualifying surely has to be one of Hamilton’s greatest claims, having beaten Schumacher’s record of 68 over 3 years ago. 8 pole positions in the first 11 rounds of 2020 leave him on 96, needing 4 in the final 6 rounds to reach 100 before the year is out, and you certainly wouldn’t bet against him. A century of wins will also surely follow in 2021, another year which looks ominous for those wishing to see a team other than Mercedes challenge for championships.
3 – Most laps lead in F1 history
In yet another category where Hamilton looks set to surpass Schumacher, he needs to lead 182 more laps to have led the most in F1 history. Schumacher is currently the only driver the break the 5000 barrier in this regard, but with Hamilton’s required laps in the lead equating to around half of the remaining season, this looks entirely possible to be achieved in 2020. Hamilton has already taken the record for the greatest distance led this season, as he continues to set new standards amongst the pantheon of greats.
4 – 50 consecutive points finishes (and classified finishes)
Whilst modern-day reliability and the points scoring system skews this statistic against drivers of the past, Hamilton is in a class of his own here. He already had a record run of 33 finishes, all in the points, which ended with his mechanical DNF at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix. Since then, he has been on a run of 44 points finishes, and achieving that in every remaining race this season will take him to the 50 mark. His current run equates to a record of 1 failure to finish in the points in 78 races, with the previous consecutive points record being Kimi Raikkonen's 30, testifying both Hamilton’s immense consistency and the reliability of the Mercedes cars. Reaching 50 in a row would also likely take him to 1000 consecutive points, a record he already holds.
5 – Wins from pole in a season
As previously stated, Hamilton’s qualifying improvements in 2020 have led to 8 pole positions, and he has converted 6 of these into victories. The only exceptions were at Monza and Sochi, where he received penalties while in control of the race for misdemeanours you could argue were down to the team. 4 more victories from pole this season takes him clear of Nigel Mansell and Sebastian Vettel’s record of 9, and this is another record you wouldn’t put it past Hamilton to exceed again in 2021, should the calendar not be shortened. Hamilton is already well clear in terms of achieving pole and the win at the same race, on 56 compared to Schumacher’s 40.
It’s also mathematically possible Hamilton could equal the record for the most wins in a season, Schumacher and Vettel’s 13, however this would require a run of 6 consecutive wins from now, something he hasn’t achieved before. This, however, is another record which may well have gone with the full 22-race calendar, and may well do so next year should Mercedes be as competitive. Similarly, Vettel’s record of 15 poles in a year is safe for now but could soon go. Bottas also stopped a run of 5 consecutive Hamilton poles by beating him at the Nürburgring, cutting him 3 short of Ayrton Senna’s record of 8, and 2 short of his own best of 7. Vettel and Schumacher’s record 17 podiums in a season may have gone with Hamilton only missing the top 3 twice so far this season, likewise Hamilton’s own record of 413 points from 2019, but once again these could well fall in 2021.
Whatever you think of Lewis Hamilton, this unprecedented sporting success and influence has to be respected; many have been bored of it for a while, and in his mid-30s you might expect the rate of winning to have slowed by now. However, it speaks volumes that Hamilton can have commitments in music, clothing, acting and charity work whilst making a huge difference regarding racism through the Black Lives Matter movement, environmental issues, animal rights and so on, yet rock up to a race weekend and continue to set the bar higher and higher. Having a win ratio of over 50% across a 7-year period is truly remarkable, and whether you think it’s the car, the driver, or both, this has to be respected.
The “GOAT” debate will rage on forever, but for me truly what sets Hamilton apart is the fact he comes from a working-class background and is the only black driver in 70 years of F1, in a traditionally white upper class sport, and yet we’re discussing the vast amount of records he’s in the process of breaking. This doesn’t get spoken about enough and is a prime case study in sporting inspiration and overcoming adversity, along with the likes of Muhammad Ali and LeBron James. You wonder just how high Hamilton will have set the bars when he retires, and the fact he can do this in tandem with his superstar brand status and ability to drive change is what you call influence, on a scale never seen before in this sport.