We have all heard arguments debating just who is the best ever Formula 1 driver. Some say it is Ayrton Senna, others insist it is Michael Schumacher and, the new generation, sway towards a man called Lewis Hamilton. And, in all honesty, I can see where they are coming from. Here is my argument on why Hamilton is the best F1 driver of this modern era and, quite possibly, the best of all time.
Lewis Hamilton is a number of things when looking at him as a Formula 1 driver. He is a record breaker, he is blisteringly quick and he adapts to any situation thrown at him.
While he flaunts a lavish lifestyle away from racing, he always delivers when it matters. Testament to that is his five world championship titles and – most probably – a sixth to come this year.
With his first title win at McLaren in 2008, he has since matured and won a further four world championships – the last four have been in the last five years, proving him to be utterly dominant in the new turbo-hybrid era of F1.
With a staggering 87 pole positions to his name, Hamilton is the driver who has the most starts to a grand prix from first place. Another stat: he has won 30 percent of those races he has started.
Fellow world champions have too described him as among the greatest, including former team-mate of Hamilton’s – Fernando Alonso. The pair may have not always seen eye to eye, but the respect is clear. He labelled Hamilton as impeccable.
The man from Stevenage has been a hero in wet conditions – the master, truth be told. It is virtually impossible to forget his performance at the 2008 British Grand Prix. He lapped everyone but his fellow podium finishers in the rain to finish first in front of his home crowd. This was nothing short of sublime.
In the new era of the sport, he has pushed his car further than anyone else. He has been unbelievably quick, shocking even his team principal at Mercedes. The German team has delivered a tight package, but it has not always been the best car on the grid at street tracks. Hamilton, however, has taken this in his stride.
At Singapore last year, he dominated at a circuit where Red Bull should have been the strongest contenders with their downforce package. But no, it was Hamilton who rose to the challenge and took pole position by a clear margin of 0.3 seconds. He went on to stand on the top step of the podium. This, for me, was another stand-out Hamilton moment.
With five titles, Hamilton levels Juan Manuel Fangio and sits two championship wins behind Michael Schumacher. The next question: what makes him greater than the German? Really, it is simple. The new F1 cars are harder to drive and Hamilton has remained in command. With all of the new technology and rule changes he has seen in the past decade, to still come out on top – time and time again – is something to marvel. Of course, we can never directly compare the two men directly. It is difficult to see how things would have played out unless they were both running in identical cars. One thing is for sure – Hamilton would have given Schumacher a good run for his money.
Yet, the greatest driver label extends further than just Lewis’ driving ability. It is his performance away from the track that has to be explored too. He spends vast amounts of time signing autographs for fans, engaging with them on social media, and running competitions. If you follow Lewis on Instagram, you will get a true insight into his crazy life.
Of course, his personality has been like marmite – people either love him or loathe him. One thing is for certain, however – you cannot deny his sheer amount of talent. That is why he is the best thing that has ever happened to the sport, as well as being the greatest driver ever to participate, in F1 as we know it today. He brings in millions of fans, causes the British public to tune into race weekends, and promotes F1 in only a way that Liberty Media could have dreamt about.
He has matured into a man – a gentleman who loves what he does, not the boy we first saw some 13 years ago. He has stayed humble to his roots and background, despite the levels of stardom and public scrutiny he now faces.
The most prolific thing, perhaps, is that at only 34-years-old, Hamilton could have another half a decade of competing at his best level. There will, undoubtedly, be much more to come. He may well level Schumacher and go beyond that in terms of numbers. But, either way, you cannot deny that Hamilton is one of the greatest ever F1 driver and the best driver of today.