Lewis Hamilton is feeling confident about becoming the first Formula 1 driver to win a race after their 300th start in the sport, responding to that historical statistic by claiming “there has never been another driver like me”.
The seven-time World Champion is one of only six drivers to have reached the landmark in Formula 1, along with Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher – with Sebastian Vettel retiring just shy on 299 starts.
None of them won a race after reaching their 300th start, though Alonso will be in competition with Hamilton at Aston Martin to try and become the first to do so this season.
The 2022 campaign was the first year out of Hamilton’s 16 in Formula 1 that he went a full season without taking a win, with the Mercedes W13 being well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari for much of the year, though he still finished 2022 with nine podiums, and three consecutive P2 finishes in the final four races.
But looking ahead to the future, the 38-year-old believes Mercedes have learned plenty of lessons from their struggles last season, which can propel them this time around.
“If I can say anything from last year, it is that as a team we have only become more resilient and more determined,” Hamilton said in an interview with Formule1.nl.
“We actually want to bounce back after 2021, that was where our drive came from.
“At one point I did think: ‘God, with this car I really can’t fight for the title’.”
Then when it was put to him that a driver is yet to win beyond their 300th start in Formula 1, Hamilton – who sits on 310 as of the end of 2022 – responded: “But there has never been a driver like me.”
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Lewis Hamilton facing tough fight for eighth title
Hamilton goes into the year looking to become the outright most successful Formula 1 driver ever by taking an elusive eighth World Championship, but contingent to that success will be how much Mercedes have improved over winter compared to Red Bull and Ferrari.
Even if they do make significant strides, there is no guarantee it will be enough to put the Silver Arrows back in the title hunt from the off in Bahrain in March.
Even though Hamilton seemingly had the measure of team-mate George Russell in the second half of last season in particular, it was still a close fight between the two and with Mercedes’ no-team-order policy, he will have to battle the driver on the other side of his garage as well as the Red Bull and Ferrari duos if he is to take victories again in 2023.