While it not come as too much of a surprise that Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has secured title number six at the race just gone in Austin on Sunday, for many it triggers a sense of deja vu. With title number six accomplished, Lewis gets one step closer to matching the man that the records comprehend to be the best of all time, the mighty Michael Schumacher. For a lot of you out there, just like me, the accomplishments of Lewis and his Mercedes team within the last five or six years echo that of Schumacher and the dominant Ferrari team of the early 2000's. A pure stranglehold on the title with a backup of determination, performance and ability.
Michael managed a total of five straight titles with the Ferrari team, with an overall of seven world championships as two had already been gained with previous team Benetton. Lewis, thus far, has also gained five titles with the Mercedes team, almost also in succession for only a fired up Nico Rosberg to get in the way in 2016, with Hamilton's first title coming from former team McLaren. When Michael secured that seventh title in 2004, not too many were convinced that he would ever be touched in terms of succession, yet here we are just fifteen years later with driver looking to break every record – and then some.
Looking back on Lewis career, you cannot disagree that he has been sensational. We all know his story by now. We all know about the young boy from Stevenage who started racing remote controlled cars at the age of eight and appeared on Blue Peter. We all know about the 13 year old karting sensation whose father was working three jobs just to keep him on the track, and we certainly all remember the young man who asked Ron Dennis at the 1998 Autosport Awards to consider him for a future drive at McLaren when he got to that time. We know who Lewis is and where he has come from. We know what he has accomplished, and he does not seem keen on stopping yet.
One amazing fact is such that Lewis is the only driver in history to win at least one race in every season of Formula 1 that he has competed in, but of course with that feat comes the argument that he never really had a bad car. You could argue that yes, people like Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso or even Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna started their own F1 careers in cars that realistically had not a real hope of winning a race, sure I get that. In terms of Lewis however, he was always kind of – there performance wise. I cannot recall a single weekend where Lewis was in a terrible form, and was always able to bounce back from penalties or back of grid starting positions. In a literal sense, regardless of the terms going into a race weekend, you could never really mark him down to not perform.
Sure, there's been standout drives from other drivers in far worse cars. Senna's Donington win in 93 comes to mind, or Schumacher's 96 win in Spain, or even Vettel's win at Monza in 2008, which were all of course in horribly wet conditions. Lewis has had his truly amazing standout moments also. One particular favourite of mine was the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton, who hit the barriers early on at the Tobac corner, McLaren opted to pit him and go long into his race with a heavy fuel stop in the glory days of refueling, and he managed to eventually take the win by keeping his nose out of trouble while everyone else fell by the wayside in one of Monaco's classic wet races of attrition. Another favourite of mine was his pole position lap just last year in Singapore, the only lap I remember watching in a long time and thinking “woah, that's bloody quick!” There's almost too many moments to count where Hamilton has been truly incredible, sometimes as all legends tend to go, go beyond the capabilities of the car itself.
Personally, like I have said before, I am not a fan of Hamilton. His lifestyle, the way he presents himself, how he reacts, it's not for me. Then again, I acknowledge that this is who he is and what he wants to do, and I have complete respect for him because he is not afraid to be his own person and do what he wants to do, and I think we all could learn a lesson from that. As for his sheer speed and ability in a racing car, you can't not respect it. He has been dominant because he has worked hard with Mercedes to develop into the unstoppable partnership we see today. Rising to the top is one thing, staying there is another game. Both the team and Hamilton have always pulled more out of the bag when it seems there is no more left and the time is finally up. Hamilton in particular, I think this is his strongest quality. When you think he is on the edge or he is about to be bettered by another driver, he squeezes that little bit more out. Bit, by bit, by bit, every single time, he can always rise just that little bit higher.
For Valtteri Bottas, I believe he can beat Hamilton next season, but he needs to rise as Lewis rises. We seen it on so many levels this year where Valtteri would get within striking distance, and Lewis would just squeeze it a bit more. Even in 2016 when he eventually lost the title to Nico Rosberg, we went from being 35 points behind Rosberg coming into his first victory of the season in Monaco, to leading the championship to only losing out to the title. He has an ability to not give up and go to the absolute limit, sometimes more even than the drivers around him. He isn't unbeatable, but Valtteri, or any other driver will need to absolutely pull out all the stops and just go for it in 2020, regardless of other people's thinking behind it if they want to get Hamilton. For a driver that makes very little mistakes, very little accidents and very little penalties, he will simply just need to be outdriven on the circuit to be beat, and doing that against the mentality he is in at the moment? Like I said, he's not unbeatable, but he will be a very hard task to accomplish.
After accomplishing the sixth title on Sunday in Texas, Hamilton spoke of how he feels he is getting better with each result and that he does not feel at the peak of his performance yet, which is a scary message to send to the competition. He expressed his desires to stay for the regulation changes in 2021 and even beyond and believes that he can keep going for quite a while yet. If that is the case, could he do the unthinkable and match, or even beat Michael Schumacher's once impossible title record, and quite possibly end his F1 career as the best of all time? I'll leave that to you.
What has been your favourite Lewis Hamilton moment? Drop your memories in the comments!