Many of his fans are already, prematurely in my view, proclaiming him the best ever. And you can see why. Just look at his record. You would not be laughed out of court for arguing the case. I do not think he can be proclaimed the best ever, at least not yet for the following reasons:
- He has been beaten twice by a team mate in the same car. In 2011 he was outscored by Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg beat him to the 2016 drivers title. Both these drivers are considered ‘good’ rather than ‘great’. Ayrton Senna and Michael Schmacher (Mk 1) were never seriously challenged by a team mate.
- There are still a number of drivers ahead of him or close to him in terms of WDC’s and total wins. Michael Schumacher is still way out in front with 7 titles and 91 wins!!! Sebastian Vettel has 4 titles, is younger and may yet eclipse Lewis.
- Nico Rosberg out-qualified him over the course of the 2013 season. MK 1 Schumacher and Ayrton Senna were never out-qualified by a team mate in the same car over the course of a season.
- He has not won a title in an inferior car like Schumacher did in 1994. Driving the quantifiably inferior Benetton B194, Michael ran rings around the Williams drivers, Damon Hill and David Coulthard who were equipped with an Adrian Newey-designed Williams FW16. The Williams was clearly aerodynamically superior and had the latest spec Renault V10 engine, which was the best engine of that era.
- It is very difficult to compare drivers from different eras.
Having said that, who is to say Lewis will not one day match or surpass Michael Schumacher’s record? However ‘other worldly’ Schumacher’s record of 7 titles and 91 wins looks today. Lewis clearly has the talent and at his current strike rate he would match or surpass Michael’s incredible record in 3-4 seasons and would be statistically (at least) the greatest-ever Formula 1 driver. Whether he can maintain the focus and dedication required to accomplish that is another question entirely.
I am certainly not betting against that.