Lewis Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 victory record at the Portuguese Grand Prix, with the highest victory margin seen the whole season.
It was a suitable place to do so – Hamilton reached Valtteri Bottas, a teammate, and overtook him, and pulled out over twenty five seconds by the flag.
This wasn’t a strategy game like we have witnessed in other races, where Hamilton handled the distances and the tires. It was a plain-out example of the power which Hamilton brought to a Portimao hat trick-pole, victory and fastest lap.
Hamilton was in a different position from Bottas in Portugal – as he was so much in most of his career. It’s this natural ability that has contributed to his popularity, and the question anyone invariably asks is – what’s the secret?
According to Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin, when Lewis showed up, they realized that he was going to be exceptionally fast, but they didn’t quite comprehend how skilled he will be in helping out with the car development aspect. Shovlin said he has a knack for feeling the car and pointing out correctly what needs to be modified.
There are a number of Hamilton’s early victories have been exceptional, since he has proven his power to defeat the best in tough conditions right from his rookie year in 2007.
There was a race at Silverstone a year after he started out, when he won his first British GP by more than a minute in the hard rain. In 2016, in Brazil, the wettest, most treacherous race some drivers saw, Hamilton zoomed away from his championship challenger Nico Rosberg to victory.
This has been going on in his career on a regular basis. Like Singapore in 2017 when he faced Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the title. And far more magnificently, Germany in 2018, sealing victory in wet, complex conditions from fourteenth on the grid. And far more magnificently, Germany in 2018, winning in wet, complex conditions from fourteenth on the grid.
These races prove how good Hamilton is at feeling out grip, pushing the car to the edge, when grappling with the extremes of championship-challenging stress.
As long as he doesn’t drop more than 7 points to Bottas in the upcoming race in Turkey, the championship is his. Then, Michael Schumacher’s count of 7 titles will be the same as his. Having already surpassed the German win milestone, this would make Lewis the most prolific race driver ever.
What happens now?
The question on some people’s minds is – where will Hamilton go from here? Even thought the natural answer is that the juggernaut will stay with his successful team and leader Toto Wolff, some were a bit confused by the coy answers the team members gave. But as it usually goes, this is probably just a typical, ho-harm PR answer. What did they exactly say?
Hamilton’s win at Imola, leading teammate Valtteri Bottas over the finish line, sealed Mercedes’ 7th Constructors’ Championship in a row and set a new record, zooming over Ferrari’s accomplishment.
But Wolff spoke about the tension of the job, and possibly transferred to a different role inside Mercedes in 2021. Hamilton was saying that the future of Wolff wasn’t a worry for him, but he did not know whether he was meant to be here in 2021 and that there are no warrants.
Actually, it is extremely improbable that anything would look very different next year.
Wolff may have a different job role – he will be named an executive director or similar, with someone taking on the daily tasks of overseeing a team. Hamilton does not have a new contract, but the odds that they will not be together for the following 2-3 years are slim.
Hamilton said he prioritized the titles to sitting down to settle his deal, and the complicating aspect was coronavirus – him and Wolff agreed not to sit down to chat because they wanted to restrict contact.
When is it going to end?
Hamilton will be 36 at the beginning of next season, but we’re observing drivers with longer careers now. Kimi Raikkonen’s going hard at 41, and Alonso’s coming back in 2021 despite turning forty.
For now, Lewis is the most celebrated driver in the history of Grand Prix with 92 victories, so it’s hard to believe he’s not going to break the number 100 and beyond in upcoming times.