LEWIS HAMILTON'S TOP FIVE WINS - RANKED
Lewis Hamilton could secure win number 91 in Russia and match Michael Schumacher's record. A look at some of his finest.
There was understandably a lot of hype when Lewis Hamilton first entered Formula One in 2007 with McLaren Mercedes.
His record in junior formulae was impressive to say the least, winning both the Formula Renault UK and Formula 3 Euro Series titles before making the step up to GP2 in 2006.
Hamilton wrapped up the Drivers' Championship that season in the last round at Monza, beating future Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. by 12 points, and produced a series of stunning drives as he recorded five wins and a further 10 podiums.
McLaren had recognised Hamilton's potential early, after he had met Ron Dennis at the Autosport Awards in 1995. That meeting would have a big effect on his career, and he joined the McLaren Academy in 1998, when he was just 13 years of age.
He was also supported along the way by his dad Anthony, who bought Lewis his first kart aged eight and acted as his manager up until the middle point of his Formula One career. In his autobiography, 'My Story', first published in 2007, Lewis wrote: "Dad is my biggest supporter, and a fantastic father, without whom I may not have even discovered I had any talent for racing."
In mid-2006, following the announcement of Michael Schumacher's retirement from Ferrari, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen signed a contract to replace the seven-time world champion at Maranello.
And with Juan Pablo Montoya having left the Woking-based team mid-season to join NASCAR, there were two McLaren seats vacant. In Raikkonen's place came two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton was immediately tipped to fill the second driver slot, with Pedro de la Rosa, who had filled in for Montoya in 2006, and fellow reserve driver Gary Paffett also reportedly considered as options.
McLaren team principal Ron Dennis opted with the then 21-year-old Hamilton, and thus began a career that has so far spanned 13 years and 95 pole positions, as well as 90 victories, just one behind that famous Schumacher landmark.
In this article, we're going to take a look at five of the Stevenage-born driver's best victories - in the interest of fair coverage across his career, we're limiting it to one win per season. You could argue that his four wins in 2007 alone could be worth a spot in the top five.
5. HUNGARY, 2009
It was a tough first half for the season for Hamilton, as seen above. 70 laps around the Hungaroring, however, was anything but. (Credit: Richard Barclay, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)
In truth, 2009 up to this point could not have gone any worse for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton or Heikki Kovalainen.
McLaren, now headed by Martin Whitmarsh as team principal after the departure of Ron Dennis, entered the season as one of only four teams to equip the KERS system, a device which allowed for a 80hp energy boost each lap through energy storage under braking, but also one that weighed 30kg.
The device seemed to initially work to the team's advantage in Australia, Hamilton overcoming a 18th-placed start to finish third after initial penalties were applied.
However, the Brit was disqualified after he and McLaren were deemed to have misled the stewards over a safety car incident involving Toyota's Jarno Trulli. Results on track weren't to improve too much after that.
Hamilton was knocked out in Q1 in Monaco and Turkey earlier in the year, before qualifying 19th at his home race at Silverstone. Having won the race a year before, Hamilton found himself battling with his old team-mate and adversary Fernando Alonso throughout.
Instead of battling for the win, however, it was for the lower positions. Alonso ended up in 14th, with Hamilton in 16th.
By the time the teams travelled to the Nurburgring for round nine of the season, the 2008 world champion had collected just nine points, with no podium finishes to his name.
Germany did at least see a raft of technical upgrades applied to the McLaren, and both drivers saw an improvement in performance. Hamilton qualified fifth, but a collision with Mark Webber at turn one dropped him down the field, and he finished last.
Then it was on to Budapest, Hungary. And whilst the weekend was dominated by Felipe Massa's horrific head injury in qualifying, from which he of course later made a full recovery, the race was a story of redemption for both McLaren and Hamilton.
The 24-year-old produced another strong qualifying performance, qualifying fourth behind Webber, Sebastian Vettel and surprise pole-sitter Alonso in the Renault, who was low fuelled for the first stint.
Seizing on the poor start of Vettel in front, Hamilton scythed his way up into second into turn one, before outbreaking himself and allowing Webber to pass him.
He was not to sit behind the Red Bull driver for long, however, passing him on lap five around the outside of turn two.
Next up was Alonso, the Spaniard having pulled away in the opening laps. Surprisingly, though, he could not keep the pace up as his car got lighter, allowing Hamilton to close in.
When Alonso did pit on lap 12, he emerged in 10th position. However, the Renault team had not fixed his front right wheel spinner on correctly - it detached around turn four, with the wheel falling off completely later on in the lap.
With one contender for the win gone, Hamilton was in a league of his own up front, quickly pulling away from Webber. He was able to pit on lap 20, getting out in front of the heavily-fuelled Jenson Button in the Brawn as well as Kimi Raikkonen, who had got ahead of Webber in the pits the previous lap.
For the entirety of the second stint, Hamilton was able to both manage the gap to the Finn and extend it to Webber and Kovalainen behind. The second McLaren would soon drop out of contention, losing out to Nico Rosberg in the pits, but Hamilton was having no such issues up front.
His second pit stop came and went, and with both frontrunners on the harder prime tyre, Hamilton looked to be coasting towards victory. And he did exactly that, crossing the line 11.5 seconds ahead of Raikkonen.
Without any chance of retaining his Drivers' Championship crown, Hamilton had to be content with strong results for the remainder of the season. He subsequently produced a fine drive at Singapore, converting pole to a comfortable win ahead of Timo Glock and Alonso.
Hamilton's win around the Hungaroring may not have been Hamilton's most entertaining race, but it was one he controlled almost from start to finish, and it signalled a real shift in McLaren's ambitions for the second half of 2009.
4. JAPAN, 2007
It was a stunning debut season for Hamilton, losing the Drivers' Championship by just one point. Fuji was one of his finest afternoons. (Credit: Jeff Wunrow, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Lewis Hamilton had already defied all expectations in his debut season when he entered round 15 of 17 in the 2007 World Championship.
Despite finishing fourth at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks earlier, behind team-mate Fernando Alonso, Hamilton still led the championship by two points over the Spaniard, and 13 over Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari.
Enter Fuji Speedway, and what was F1's first visit to the famous Japanese track in 30 years.
Rain was forecast throughout the weekend, with free practice on the Saturday morning eventually cancelled due to persistent fog. Qualifying later that day followed the same pattern, with intermittent showers throughout.
Hamilton took a crucial pole position, 0.070s ahead of Alonso, with the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Felipe Massa filling up row two.
On Sunday afternoon, fog once again bathed the racetrack. Parallels were drawn to the awful conditions that provided the backdrop to the famous James Hunt v Niki Lauda title battle of 1976. Hunt won his first F1 title that day, but could Hamilton take one step further today to emulate his fellow countryman?
He had to wait 20 laps to even begin racing, with the Grand Prix forced to be started behind the safety car. Once the green flag was finally raised, Hamilton and Alonso began to gradually pull away from the field.
They were helped somewhat by Honda's Jenson Button, who hit Nick Heidfeld's BMW at turn one, costing him his front wing in the process.
Button continued to tour the circuit with a severe loss of downforce, and though he remarkably managed to hold down fifth place for a number of laps, was lapping at five seconds slower than the McLaren duo.
That series of events provided the first pivotal moment of the race, with Alonso pitting for fuel and tyres on lap 27 only to find himself exiting the pitlane behind a train of cars which included Giancarlo Fisichella, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica and David Coulthard.
Hamilton stopped on the next lap and managed to stay ahead of them all, with only Mark Webber - having yet to pit - ahead of him in the Red Bull.
The Brit was then hit from behind by the onrushing Kubica, costing him several positions and also handing a drive-through penalty to the Pole, who would have rued a potential podium slipping away. Lewis later revealed he had to drive with a vibration for the remainder of the race.
Hamilton was not the only one having problems, though, as Alonso was swiftly passed by Heidfeld and Raikkonen, the latter of whom had made two stops following a decision to pit for the standard wet, rather than extreme wet tyres, during the safety car.
The Spaniard was then involved in a collision with Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel at turn one, and with Hamilton subsequently running wide and slipping down the field, McLaren were seemingly in a world of trouble.
Order was soon restored, however, when the one stoppers pitted, leaving Hamilton free to lead from the front ahead of Webber and Vettel.
Then, on lap 43, Alonso hit the wall hard on the exit of turn five, immediately bringing out the safety car.
Vettel then hit the back of Webber's car under safety car conditions, causing both men to retire and elevating Kovalainen in the Renault up into second place.
The last 20 laps were slightly more serene for Hamilton compared to the rest of the race, and he saw his McLaren home to take the chequered flag ahead of Kovalainen and Raikkonen, meaning it was the first time that two Finnish drivers were on the podium in F1.
It was a win that had huge implications for the Drivers' Championship, with Alonso's failure to finish meaning Hamilton held a 12 point lead over his team-mate and occasional adversary. Raikkonen's third place meant he still had a chance of taking the title, 17 points back from the Brit.
3. USA, 2012
The calm before the storm for Lewis Hamilton. Having won his first US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2007, he won his second one at Austin. (Credit: Gussisaurio, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Lewis Hamilton's victory at the United States Grand Prix of 2012 would turn out to be his last for McLaren before making the move to Mercedes in 2013.
That it was in the US - the same place he underlined his pure pace against team-mate Fernando Alonso in a straight fight in 2007 - was apt.
Hamilton enjoyed one of his finest hours at Indianapolis back then, but with the famous embanked circuit removed from the calendar, Formula One made its first trip to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
It had been a difficult 2012 season for McLaren up to this point, with Hamilton having suffered four retirements, with a further classification having only completed 90% of the race distance. All had been car failures, barring the lap one crash at Belgium that took out several members of the field, and the last-lap collision with Pastor Maldonado at Valencia.
Hamilton had, in fact, been leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks prior, only to suffer a race-ending fuel pressure problem on lap 19.
COTA was the perfect chance for the Brit to return to the top step, although regaining the Drivers' Championship was out of the equation.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel led the championship by 10 points ahead of Ferrari's Alonso, and dominated every session leading up to race day.
The German was joined on the front row by Hamilton, who had to deal with a launch off the dirty side of the pit straight.
He predictably struggled to gain enough traction off the line, Vettel's team-mate Webber swooping past on the outside into turn one. Alonso, having started seventh, got a superb start and immediately slotted into fourth.
As had happened on many occasions that season, Vettel out front began to sprint away in the opening laps. Hamilton's chances of winning would have been dealt a serious blow had he not quickly dispatched Webber.
With DRS particularly powerful down the main straight at Austin, Hamilton passed the Australian into the braking zone on lap three, only to go wide and allow the Red Bull driver back through.
There was not to be a repeat performance on lap four, however, Hamilton performing the same move on the inside, but this time keeping his McLaren in position and successfully moving up a place.
Vettel and Hamilton then traded fastest laps throughout the remainder of the first stint, with the latter unable to get within DRS range, whilst Webber suffered a KERS failure behind them and retired on lap 17.
Hamilton blinked first heading into the pitstop window and pitted on lap 20 for a new set of the hard prime tyres, emerging behind the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel pitted two laps later and cleared the Finn, putting crucial seconds between him and his nearest rival.
The McLaren, which recorded considerable numbers over the speed trap all weekend, gave Hamilton the power needed to catch Raikkonen on the DRS straight and pass him under braking.
From then on, he looked the most likely to win the race. Vettel was the first man into the 1:40s, on lap 35, but by lap 40 he was under severe pressure.
Hamilton used the 41st lap as almost a rehearsal and looked to go up the inside of Vettel into turn 12, but backed out.
The leading Red Bull then came up behind Narain Karthikeyan in the HRT, and whilst the Indian driver did not hold him up, Hamilton was able to get within half a second going through the first sector.
The DRS straight was where the move was finally completed. Hamilton slipstreamed Vettel, before taking the outside line and sweeping back across to cover the position into turn 12.
Hamilton controlled the remainder of the race, although the threat of Vettel did not completely disappear.
The two crossed the line with just 0.6s between them, Vettel having set the fastest lap of a 1:39.3 on the final tour.
This was Hamilton's race, and a win he could say he fully deserved.
Behind them, Alonso kept up his title challenge with a strong third, whilst Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button finished fifth having started 12th on the grid.
There was to be no fairytale finish to Hamilton's McLaren career at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, as he clashed with Nico Hulkenberg whilst battling for the lead, but his maiden victory at Austin was one to remember as he left for pastures new.
2. BRITAIN, 2015
Despite a difficult start, and changeable weather conditions, Hamilton kept his cool to win his third British Grand Prix. (Credit: Joel Spencer, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
It would be fair to say that Lewis Hamilton won this race as a result of a single out lap. However, barring the opening lap of racing action, and including a period of changeable weather conditions, he produced a calm and faultless performance to win his third British Grand Prix.
Mercedes, just like they have in every season since the turbo hybrid era began, produced a championship-winning car in 2015.
They had a lot to live up to, having produced a machine that dominated the field in 2014 in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
It won 16 out of 19 possible races (Hamilton 11, Rosberg five), with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo (three) the only victor over the course of the season.
The 2015 challenger very much continued in that vein in the opening eight rounds of the season, Hamilton and Rosberg sharing seven wins between them.
They had been pushed somewhat by Sebastian Vettel who, having signed for Ferrari for 2015 and beyond, had not finished lower than fifth all season, and also won the Malaysian Grand Prix.
At Silverstone, however, Vettel was only sixth in qualifying, with the Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas proving to have strong cars underneath them.
Hamilton was able to take a narrow pole position, 0.1s ahead of Rosberg, meaning he had the favourable inside line going into turns one and two. Massa and Bottas qualified third and fourth respectively.
The start, however, did not go to plan for either Mercedes. Hamilton initially got off to a good launch but encountered plenty of wheelspin, and Massa passed him with time to spare before turn one.
Bottas then got through into turn three, but Hamilton took the inside line going into turn four and regained the place.
Behind them, the Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado came together, which resulted in McLaren's Fernando Alonso spinning into the path of team-mate Jenson Button, the second Brit out of three on the grid being forced to retire from his home Grand Prix.
With debris on the track, the safety car was then brought out as the cars approached Stowe corner, with Massa maintaining his lead.
Once it returned to the pits on lap three, and with 2015 regulations allowing cars to overtake at the first safety car line, Hamilton made his move into the final chicane. He would, however, run wide, allowing Massa and then Bottas back through.
Massa repeatedly went purple in front, setting a 1:39.5 fastest lap on lap six. Hamilton's first task, though, was to close up to and pass Bottas.
By lap eight, the Finn was in position to attempt to pass Massa on the outside of Stowe, but was forced to back out as Williams instructed both drivers not to fight with each other. With Rosberg then going on to set the quickest lap of the afternoon, only 2.2 seconds covered the top four drivers.
All four drivers held position approaching the first round of stops, despite a pitwall message to Bottas allowing him to pass Massa if he could do so cleanly. He again pulled alongside his team-mate around Stowe on lap 17, but could not find a way through.
The battling between team-mates meant that Williams could not pull away from the Mercedes pair, meaning Mercedes acted first and pitted Hamilton on lap 19. He moved onto the red-striped hard tyres, which had already shown pace fixed on to the Ferrari duo of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton came out of the pits in clear air, with the key to the potential race win being held by a single out lap. He nailed it, with Massa and Rosberg pitting at the end of lap 20 and both coming out behind him.
The lead Mercedes then immediately began to pull clear. Hamilton pumped in a fastest lap of a 1:37.1, all the while dropping the squabbling Massa, Bottas and Rosberg behind him.
He was four seconds ahead of Massa by lap 25, although with the threat of rain looming later on in the Grand Prix, the prospect of a comfortable drive to the finish was out of the question.
The virtual safety car was brought out on lap 33 following Carlos Sainz's final corner mechanical failure, by which point Hamilton's lead was up to six seconds.
Three laps later the rain began to fall lightly, although enough for Bottas, whose podium was under increasing pressure from Rosberg, to call for a switch to intermediate tyres.
The consensus amongst most of the drivers was that the track was too dry for a tyre change at that point, although heavy rain then began to fall on the exit of Luffield and at Copse.
Various drivers took the risk and pitted onto intermediates, including Raikkonen and Alonso, as Hamilton himself went off the track at Copse and continued.
The weather radar showed that the showers were set to stop, but crucially anticipated another lighter shower to fall in five minutes' time.
Rosberg used the chaos to his advantage, passing both Massa and Bottas to move up into second, and began to close in on Hamilton, who had established a seven second gap to those behind him.
The German then immediately went 1.5 seconds quicker than his team-mate on lap 41, and cut a further two seconds into Hamilton's lead the following lap. Soon, Hamilton could see Rosberg clearly in his mirrors down the Hangar Straight, which underlined his potentially race-defining decision to pit for intermediates on lap 43.
The move was the correct one, as the dry tyres began to overheat on a dampening track, and Rosberg came out nine seconds behind his team-mate.
After what had been an action-packed section of the Grand Prix, Hamilton began to manage the gap up front and took the chequered flag to send the vast majority of the 90,000 crowd into celebration.
The win meant that Hamilton extended his championship lead over Rosberg to 17 points, with Vettel, who had taken an excellent third place after changing tyres at the right time, 42 points further back.
Hamilton would go on to claim his third Drivers' Championship come the end of the season, winning a further five races post-Silverstone and finishing 59 points clear of closest challenger Rosberg, who won the last three Grands Prix.
1. BRITAIN, 2008
Lewis Hamilton's greatest ever drive? Changeable conditions. Qualified behind his team-mate. And only three cars ended on the lead lap. (Credit: Richard Smith, Geograph, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Northamptonshire, and indeed the vast majority of Britain, is famous for its mid-summer showers. So when the F1 roadshow visited Silverstone in early July 2008, it was no surprise to see that rain had flooded the circuit come the race start.
Lewis Hamilton came into the race on the back foot in the standings, trailing championship leader Felipe Massa by 10 points.
Massa had produced a masterful drive to win at Magny-Cours two weeks earlier, whilst Hamilton had endured a difficult weekend, hampered by the 10-place grid penalty he received for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen in the pitlane at Montreal.
More bad news was to arrive on the Saturday at Silverstone, with Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen snatching pole by half a second to Red Bull's Mark Webber. Raikkonen put further distance between Hamilton and the pole spot, with the Brit qualifying in fourth place.
The rain abated for a period before the beginning of the race, meaning that the cars began on intermediate tyres.
The disappointment that clouded Hamilton's Q3 performance, however, was rectified before turn one, as Hamilton triggered the perfect launch and breezed past Raikkonen and Webber. He even had a look down the inside of Kovalainen, but was forced to back out.
Behind the two McLaren's, chaos ensued. Webber span his Red Bull on the Hangar Straight, facing backwards against a stream of fast-approaching cars. Massa went off at Abbey, before David Coulthard - in his final British Grand Prix - and Sebastian Vettel took each other out of the race at Woodcote.
Coulthard won the race at Silverstone in 2000, eight years after the great Nigel Mansell did so in the Williams. On lap 5, Hamilton pulled off a Mansell on Piquet-esque manoeuvre into Stowe to pass his team-mate and get into the race lead.
Kovalainen had no answer to Hamilton's pace, and span the car going into Abbey, letting Raikkonen advance into second place.
By the time both the leaders pitted for fuel on lap 21, Raikkonen had closed the gap to just one second. However, whilst Hamilton took on fresh intermediate tyres, Ferrari kept the Finn on the same set.
It was a decision that had race-altering consequences. Hamilton stayed in front coming out of the pitlane, and Raikkonen soon plummeted down the field, unable to deal with the pouring rain on old rubber.
Kovalainen passed him around the outside leading on the pit straight, but both were overtaken by Nick Heidfeld, who would have a part to play later on.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was in a class of his own in front. By lap 27, he had a 30 second advantage over the BMW driver. His only potential rival at this stage was Honda's Rubens Barrichello, who had pitted for the extreme wets at his pitstop and was incisive in his efforts to get up the field.
By lap 35, the rain had got even heavier. Nelson Piquet Jr aquaplaned his Renault into the gravel, before Kubica lost the car into Maggots. Both Ferraris had major spins, but continued.
That caused both Hamilton and Heidfeld to pit for new intermediates, rather than extreme wets. Lewis was still two seconds a lap quicker than every other driver on the same tyres, though, and now had a lead of over 50 seconds.
Behind them, Kubica went off one too many times and beached his car in the gravel at Abbey, whilst Massa was running 13th and last, having had five spins by the end of the race.
Barrichello made it past Heidfeld and into second, still 40 seconds behind Hamilton. He was forced to pit late on though, thanks to a refuelling rig problem at his last stop.
Hamilton had a relatively calm last 10 laps, even lapping team-mate Kovalainen and championship challenger Raikkonen at one point. The Ferrari driver did salvage a decent handful of points, passing Fernando Alonso for fourth in the closing stages.
This was to be another wet-weather masterclass by Hamilton though, who won the race by a staggering 68 seconds, with Heidfeld in second. Only Heidfeld and other podium sitter Barrichello managed to finish on the lead lap.
The result had major connotations for the Drivers' Championship. Hamilton, having trailed Massa by 10 points coming into the weekend, was now level with the Brazilian. Raikkonen's fourth meant he joined them both on 48 points, with Kubica just two behind on 46.
Hamilton was technically ahead on countback, and in fact would not relinquish the lead of the championship again that season, famously winning it by one point at Brazil.
It was Hamilton v Alonso at Canada in 2007. And Hamilton prevailed. (Credit: Mark McArdle, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)
It's impossible to choose only five of Hamilton's 90 total wins and not miss out some classic drives.
His maiden Formula One win at Montreal in 2007, where he had to negotiate four separate safety cars, is right up there at the top of the list. He had to bounce back from an early race puncture to dominate a wet Monaco Grand Prix in 2008.
He's also produced some of his finest drives whilst part of the Mercedes team. He won his home British Grand Prix four times in a row between 2014 and 2017, and also won a changeable conditions race at Germany in 2018, when several of his title rivals all faltered.
Hamilton led every lap of this season's Spanish Grand Prix, and did so again in Belgium, before overtaking team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the first red flag restart in Mugello last weekend and holding him off at the second.
Since Formula One began racing at the Sochi Circuit in Russia in 2015, Hamilton has won three out of the five races held there. Don't bet against him recording win number 91, and matching Michael Schumacher's long-standing record, next weekend.