Lewis Hamilton, a man that has become the most successful British driver in Formula one. He now has five world championships, joining the sports very elite in Fangio and Schumacher, who are the only other drivers with 5 or more titles. Hamilton has broken multiple records and divided opinion for what he does off track. However, he always seems to deliver when he turns up at the race track and is no doubt one of the greatest drivers my generation has witnessed.
Let's take a look at his five world championships to date, where he clinched them and a brief overview of the season he won them in.
1. Brazil 2008- Mclaren
Personally, this is my favourite of Hamilton's titles. This was only his second season in the sport and after just narrowly missing out on winning the title in his rookie season, he narrowly won this one.
I was a fan of his racing style back in the early days, his aggressive style was very entertaining to watch and like Verstappen now, he wasn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers. With Hamilton and Massa's results twisting and turning at every point, things came down to the final race in Brazil. Hamilton had a seven point lead over Massa meaning he only needed a fifth place finish to wrap things up.
Vettel was running 5th and overtook Hamilton on lap 69, Felipe Massa had crossed the line as champion. But on the last corner with Glock on dry tyres for some reason and struggling, Hamilton on the last corner overtook him and hearts broke for Felipe Massa, but celebrations were frantic from the Mclaren garage.
The young protege had done it. He still had that ring around him of your local guy from Stevenage at that point, rather than the megastar status he has achieved now. He had defied all odds to get to where he was and had won the title, something no one would of expected him to do so quickly. The living out of a caravan in his previous formulas and the blood sweat and tears his dad had put in to get him where he was had all paid off. He was, in effect a stark reminder that anyone really can achieve their dreams and he had become a British hero.
2. 2014 Abu Dhabi- Mercedes
Many had questioned Hamilton's move to Mercedes from the prestigious Mclaren in 2013, it seemed daft and a big risk. But that big risk started to pay off in 2014 as Hamilton was to win his second title, this would also be the real start of the inflammatory rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg.
The season started off in a retirement at Australia for Hamilton, with Rosberg claiming the win and the German generally got the better of the Brit on a Saturday as Rosberg had most poles that season with 11 poles to Hamilton's 7. Both cars had reliability issues, both suffered a power unit issue in Canada and Rosberg had to retire at Silverstone due to gearbox issues amongst other things. But it was Hamilton who had 3 retirements to Rosbergs 2. Hamilton took the championship lead from Rosberg in Singapore which he kept until the season finale in Abu Dhabi, he had a 17 point lead over Rosberg. He wrapped things up pretty easily by winning the race with Rosberg coming 14th. This was a season that was run by Mercedes, but we saw some fantastic racing from them. Most notably in Bahrain where the two were wheel to wheel in the final stages of the race and it was a true show of race craft.
So that was all the doubters proved wrong about the Mercedes move, the question now was just how far could he go?
3. 2015 Austin- Mercedes
This was a season where Hamilton really started to look an unstoppable force. Especially on a Saturday, on the European leg he secured 7 straight pole positions. Sadly he wasn't able to get 8 which would've put him joint top with Senna for consecutive poles. He is second though joined by Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher, not bad company.
Rosberg retired in Italy, a race which Hamilton won giving him the ability to stretch his championship lead. He then retired in Singapore. We'll then hop a few races to the USA. A win here for Hamilton and he would be champion. That's exactly what happened with Rosberg putting up a fight in 1st until lap 48 where he went off track and Hamilton passed him and secured the win and with it his 3rd world championship!
That was it, that was the one that made him joint most successful British F1 driver along with Sir Jackie Stewart. What an honor, what an achievement. He had now cemented his place in the books of British motorsport history.
2017 Mexico- Mercedes
With Rosberg having retired at the end of 2016 and being replaced with Valtteri Bottas, it looked like Hamilton would walk 2017. This was not to be completely true as there was a new threat in the form of Ferrari.
Arguably the Mercedes was still the most dominant car but Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel were able to put up a challenge. They got off to a blistering start winning 2 out of the first three races with Hamilton winning the Chinese grand prix. Throughout the season there were mixed results but ultimately it as Hamilton's skill that shone through as he had 9 wins to Vettels 5 and was once again the man to beat on a Saturday as he took a blinding 11 poles. If you ever had to pick a man for Saturday it'd have to be him. He has got to be the most consistent qualifier and the quickest man round one lap almost ever! It was in Canada he equaled the same amount of poles as Senna and was gifted one of the Brazilians race worn helmets by the family. Then to remind us of his qualifying prowess and that class is permanent, he equaled most Formula one poles and was now in top spot with Schumacher. He did this in Belgium. He then surpassed Schumachers record in Italy to become the stand alone man with the most poles since the history books began in F1
He took the championship win and that was a 4th one he could add to his gleaming collection. He is now the most successful British F1 driver ever! But he wasn't done there so lets move on to the current season where he reached dizzy heights and joined and was becoming one of F1's most decorated racers.
2018 Mexico- Mercedes
Well, where do we start with this one? I said 2008 was my favourite Hamilton championship, but upon review this one may very well be my joint favourite or even outright favourite. Ferrari had a car to challenge in 2018 but this time they were all out favourites to win the championship after the first few races..... until Lewis Hamilton got himself up to speed again. Vettel got off to a flying start being victorious in both Australia and Bahrain. Neither of the drivers won China, but Hamilton won in Baku to swing the championship lead back in his direction. He then won the Spanish GP to lead by 17 points, then come Canada Vettel had won again and by doing so regained the championship lead by one point.
With the return of the French GP Hamilton took victory there and you guessed it took back number one spot in the championship. This really was the season F1 fans had been yearning for, for years in fact. This was a true battle between two four time world champions, a clash of titans if you will. After a double Mercedes DNF in Austria Vettel once again led the championship by just one point. Trouble struck though for Hamilton at his home race in Britain as he had a spin on the first lap leaving him out of the top ten. But what a drive as glimpses of the old Hamilton were shown as he climbed his way up into the top 6 by lap 10. It was a true champions drive mixed with the aggression and maturity needed to get him a second place in the race.
An upturn in fortunes saw Vettel crash out in Germany which allowed for a Hamilton win that meant he was again in the lead of the championship. Fast forward a few races to Italy and that ruthless streak Hamilton has had become prevalent once again as he had to hunt down Kimi Raikkonen who took pole. You could almost hear the jaws music being overlaid as it was like watching a shark hunt down a seal, you knew he was going to catch Kimi and it was just a matter of time before he did.
The next few races really was a masterclass from him. Singapore, a predominantly Ferrari and Red bull dominated track with Merc usually faltering. What a Saturday it was, Q3 on the final runs and Hamilton was putting in fastest sectors and I could not believe my eyes when he crossed the line and took pole. Peoples hairs were on end and Hamilton and Mercedes fans were elated, what a sensational lap driven in emphatic style to prove he is a driver with talent and can succeed even where his car isn't supposed to. He then went on to win the race.
In Russia Hamilton performed a quality overtake on Vettel, granted he had DRS but he still managed to squeeze past leaving Vettel enough room and even had to quickly flick the wheel to the right to avoid an accident,again a great show of race craft from two brilliant racers with the Brit coming out on top. It's also another top notch show of the maturity I have mentioned quite a bit, he's got something done when it needs to be done and gritted his teeth but now also calculates his risks and doesn't take too many silly ones.
Then I'm going to jump to Austin,Texas. Ferrari again seemed very strong in the way that they did back in Silverstone and seeming a much better bet for pole then Mercedes. Then as has been the story in quite a few races this season, out of absolutely nowhere Hamilton pulled a cracking lap to deny Vettel pole by less then a tenth, with his Mercedes team mate qualifying fourth. You could hear the defeat in Vettel's voice on the team radio as he really thought he had that one wrapped up.
We arrive to the present day where the race in Mexico takes place and I must admit I thought Hamilton wouldn't take any risks he didn't need to, but on lap 17 him and Raikkonen did a great little bit of wheel to wheel racing with the Brit showing his mettle and coming out on top to go 3rd. Hamilton then finished the race P4 in what was not the greatest race for him. It still meant he had won his fifth world title and was now a true legend having the same amount of titles as another hero in his own right, Fangio.
Well there we go, a brief overview of all of Hamilton's titles. Whatever people think of him and his off track ventures, you must agree that as a racer he is a pure thoroughbred and with his 5th title his name can now be banded around as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.
That kid from Stevenage, he dreamed, he believed and he achieved. The name Lewis Hamilton will now be remembered for decades, even centuries to come.
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