Akinso, he must be the G.O.A.T?
Lewis arrived in Mexico needing only 5 points from the remaining 3 races (whatever Vettel did) to secure his 5th WDC and he put himself in the perfect position to do so by qualifying on the 2nd row behind both Red Bulls and ahead of his championship rival (well, he mathematically was still a rival) in Saturday’s qualifying session.
The race on Sunday started with Verstappen taking the lead with Hamilton slotting into second place but crucially ahead of his one remaining title rival. He then drove a controlled and assured race and despite the worst tyre issues we have seen from the Mercedes cars in a while, brought home the car in 4th place to score the points needed to seal his 5th crown.
The result was never in doubt.
Is Lewis Hamilton the G.O.A.T?
So, to the question posed in the title of this article: Is Lewis Hamilton the G.O.A.T? Is he the Greatest F1 Driver Of All Time?
The factual case for Hamilton:
His record. He is statistically the 2nd-best F1 driver and while statistics do not tell the whole story, it cannot be ignored when judging excellence over a period of time. He has won 71 times and this is the 12th-straight season in which he has scored at least one victory.
He has scored the most points in F1 history (a stat skewed by the change in the points system from 10 points for a win to 25). Still, 2,968 points cannot be ignored.
His sheer speed. 81 career poles. A drivers’ qualifying speed is one measure of his raw natural talent, and Hamilton scores very highly here.
He has led 3,900 laps. The most of anybody by a long way.
His rookie season. His performances as a rookie in 2007 is the stuff of legend and remains the best F1 rookie season. No one even comes close. Yes, he was the best-prepared rookie in history, but edging the double world champion, Fernando Alonso, takes some doing. Just ask Felipe Massa, Jarno Trulli and Soffel Vandoorne.
His wet-weather drives. Lewis Hamilton has produced some of the truly great wet-weather drives this observer has ever seen. His utterly dominant victory at Silverstone in 2008 where he won by over one minute is just one example, Fuji 2007, where Alonso binned it is another. Only the truly great are capable of such feats.
The case against.
His defeats in the WDC by good but not great, drivers.
2011. He was beaten by Jenson Button in the WDC. That simply should not happen. I do not buy the conspiracy theories and the excuses advanced by his supporters about Martin Whitmarsh’s’ favouritism of Jenson Button, Jenson Button should not be beating Lewis Hamilton in the WDC. Lewis Hamilton was poor that year. The End.
2013. He was out-qualified in the same car by Nico Rosberg. Sorry, this just should not happen. Senna was never, ever out-qualified by a teammate over the course of a season. Same applies to Schumacher’s first stint in F1. There is simply no excuse for this. None whatsoever.
2016. He was beaten to the 2016 title by Nico Rosberg. This just should not happen. Nico Rosberg is good, very good, but he is not an all-time great. He will not be listed in F1’s top 20 best drivers. Again, his supporters will point to all sorts of nonsensical conspiracy theories and point to Hamilton’s engine failure in Malaysia as proof of this. They forget that Nico Rosberg plainly out-drove Lewis Hamilton at too many rounds that year, Japan and Baku to name two. Nico Rosberg beat him fair and square.
There are two drivers, who for me, are still conclusively ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the G.O.A.T. standings: Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. They both had all the qualities of Hamilton as detailed above and more, and crucially neither suffered from the mental frailties that derailed Lewis Hamilton in 2011 and 2016.
Does anybody really believe that Lewis Hamilton would out-qualify and out-race Michael Schumacher, talk less of Ayrton Senna over a season driving the same car? No, I did not think so.
So, the answer, for me, has to be ‘no, not yet’. Michael Schumacher is still substantially ahead of him in the record books, and not many people outside Lewis’ hardcore fanbase think he is better than Michael or the late, great, Ayrton Senna who is still the yardstick all F1 drivers are still judged against. I’m deliberately ignoring the first F1 driver to win 5 WDCs, Juan Manuel Fangio because it is impossible to compare two drivers from two eras 50 years apart. Hamilton may yet break Schumacher’s records and I will not be betting against him, so ask me again in 2 years time.
What I can confidently say at this time is that Lewis Hamilton is the greatest of his generation and one of the greatest drivers in F1 and motorsport history. He is one of the finest-ever drivers to don a balaclava and only a few drivers can be convincingly judged to be better than him. He is also statistically the 2nd-best F1 driver and that is a fact.
He has overcome many, many obstacles and a humble background to exceed his and all other expectations of him to become a legend in our sport, a sporting icon and a solid gold global superstar.
Fernando Alonso, his ex-teammate puts Lewis in his own top 5, ahead of himself.
Who am I to argue with him?
The scary thing is that Hamilton is only 33 and he has not finished winning races and WDCs’ yet, provided his heart is still in F1.
I do not expect everyone to agree with this, but that is part of the fun in such discussions isn’t it? Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.
This is a discussion we will pick up again next year…