As Lewis Hamilton moves onto six driver titles, he’s surpassed nearly every driver in that stat and every other, apart from one man…
Michael Schumacher is considered the all-time greatest by many, and with good reason, leading the record books in multiple areas.
Hamilton himself has already taken some said records from the German, such as pole positions and races led, but is still behind in various others.
So, what numbers does the Mercedes man have to hit in order to be, statistically at least, the best Formula 1 driver ever?
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, shall we? Hamilton moved past Juan Manuel Fangio when he claimed his sixth World Championship in Austin and now only Schumacher has more than him.
The German won his seventh title in 2004 at the age of 35, and Hamilton, at the very same age, will match him should he triumph next season. Given how dominant he and Mercedes were this season, that seems like a strong possibility.
Can he then go one better than Schumacher? The car he’s in will obviously be crucial, and given his Mercedes contract ends at the end of 2020 and the pecking order may well be shaken up by the 2021 regulations, there’s no way of knowing whether he’ll have capable machinery. Based on the way he’s driving alone though, it would take a brave man to bet against him reaching eight or more.
When Schumacher first retired in 2007, such was his dominance in this category that many believed he would never be caught. His 91 victories were more than the combined total of the two closest behind, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
And then along came Lewis Hamilton.
Prior to the hybrid era, it didn’t look like the 34-year-old would challenge Schumacher number of wins, but his dominance from 2014 onwards has propelled him to within touching distance.
He needs just nine more in his career to take top spot. That could feasibly be done next season if Mercedes have the best car again. Even if he doesn’t do so then, two or three good, if not great, seasons would most likely be enough. With the number of races increasing too, this is another record Hamilton looks likely to take from Schumacher.
A category in which Schumacher is truly in a league of his own. His record of 77 fastest laps is the most by far, with Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton both some way off in joint second place.
The Briton has five fastest laps to his name this season. At that rate, he would need to stick around for six more seasons to get close to Schumi’s tally. Even if his car turns out to be a great deal faster than the rest of the grid, he’d still need two near-perfect seasons at the least.
Moreover, there’s more competition than ever to set a fastest lap, now that it can get drivers in the top ten of a race an extra point. Basically, this is one record that will stay in German hands.
Most wins in a season
In his ridiculously dominant 2004 season, Schumacher won 12 of the opening 13 races and ended up winning 13 out of 18 in total. This is the joint-most ever, equalled only by his compatriot Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
Hamilton’s most in a season is 11, which he did in 2014 and 2018. He can go one better this season if he wins the final two races but would still fall on short of the record set by Schumacher and Vettel.
This is unlikely to be his last chance to beat it though. With him claiming he’s driving better than ever and the race calendar growing by the year, there’s undoubtedly a decent possibility that he can surpass them. Mind you, 13 is a pretty impressive amount. We’ll put this one at 50-50.
The record that’s the easiest for Hamilton to break, and the one he’ll do soonest. Schumacher was a whopping 49 podiums clear of second-placed Prost in this category in 2007, but Hamilton has been closing in on the Ferrari legend rapidly ever since.
He’s managed multiple podiums in every season he’s driven in F1, with his lowest tally being five, which he managed in 2009 and 2013. He merely has to better that by one next season, and may even have to do less if he gets a podium or two in the final two races of 2019.
This seems incredibly likely unless something goes drastically wrong for Hamilton or Mercedes in the near future. He has this one in the bag.