Former Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe says at the Turkish GP Lewis Hamilton put the debate over his success to bed.
With victory at Istanbul Park Hamilton matched an achievement which few thought would ever be seen again, that being Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships.
Hamilton’s first of seven came with McLaren in 2008, his second season in the sport, but the remaining six have arrived over the last seven years with the dominant Mercedes outfit.
The Silver Arrows are on an unprecedented run of success in Formula 1, winning seven Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in a row, and there is a section of motorsport fans, and also Formula 1 drivers, who feel that the dominance of Mercedes has played a huge role in Hamilton’s success.
However, Lowe, who worked for Mercedes between 2013-2017, says Hamilton has now silenced that debate.
Mercedes struggled initially at a slippery Istanbul Park with Hamilton qualifying P6, but while his team-mate Valtteri Bottas had several collisions and spins en route to a P14 finish, Hamilton went on to win the race by over 31 seconds and secure a seventh title in style.
“Taking the [Turkey] race, it was pretty clear he made the difference in that car,” Lowe told Motorsport.com.
“Yes, it’s a good car, but if you compare him to his team-mates, and you compare him to the mistakes of many other great drivers in that race, then he produced a perfect performance.
“So for me, if it’s not 100% him in that individual race, then it’s certainly in the high 90s.
“But if you take his entire career so far, and seven World Championships, then you have to average out the massive contribution of the teams in making great cars.
“But then if you’ve got a leading driver like Lewis who, over 14 seasons, generally in one of the leading cars, has delivered seven Championships then it is down to his driving.
“You can pick individual championships and say, ‘Well, okay, that one was an easy one for him’. But they weren’t all easy. And other factors come into play, such as endurance, consistency.
“There are many great drivers who you might say have made a major contribution with their own talent, and they’ve won championships, single championships, but to win seven requires a very special consistency and endurance.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 15, 2020
In the interview Lowe mentioned iconic World Champions of the past who he has worked with like Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell, saying none of them that the “persistence to stay in there” like Hamilton.
“None of them have had that persistence to stay in there and keep working year in, year out to win multiple Championships, and that’s just really what sets Lewis apart.” he explained.
“He’s made great, great sacrifices to do that. Personal sacrifices in terms of life choices, to really dedicate himself to his F1 career. And the consistency of staying in a team.
“People say he’s won all those races in a Mercedes, and in a 14-year F1 career, he’s only driven for two teams. Well analyse that. There’s a story in there about consistency, loyalty, and management of relationships.
“If you stay in the same team and build performance together, that’s how it comes. And that requires you to maintain relationships, as much as anything else. So that’s again part of the package of delivering so much long-standing success.”