Ranked: Lewis Hamilton’s 10 best F1 victories over his staggering career (so far)

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton winning different races during his long F1 career.

Lewis Hamilton has some particularly memorable wins over the years. Pictured: 2021 Brazilian GP, 2008 British GP, 2020 British GP, and the 2012 United States GP.

Lewis Hamilton turns 39 on Sunday and, in honour of his birthday, we’ve picked out our favourite victories from the staggering 103 wins so far…

With seven World Championship titles and 103 Grand Prix wins to his name, it’s pretty difficult to pick out just under 10 percent of those wins as being particularly amazing – given he has quite a few that could make the list.

But we’ve done our best to pick out the drives that marked themselves out as different, that elevated themselves beyond the standard and into something extraordinary. Here are our favourite 10 Lewis Hamilton wins…

10. 2007 United States GP – 1st to 1st

This was the second win of Hamilton’s career, coming just a week after his maiden win in Canada.

Having annoyed World Champion Fernando Alonso by having the measure of him in Montreal as the Spaniard made mistakes that took him out of contention before a penalty doomed his race, Alonso showed up ready for a rapid response at Indianapolis and to get one over on his upstart teammate.

But, instead, it was Hamilton once again who managed to pull out the better performance. Taking pole by just under two-tenths of a second, Hamilton had to put up with race-long pressure from an increasingly incandescent Alonso.

Midway through what was a straightforward tete-a-tete, Alonso manage to latch onto Hamilton around the banking to slipstream the other McLaren into Turn 1, but Hamilton held his nerve to remain in the lead.

Shortly after, Alonso weaved over towards the pitwall to show his frustration – he hadn’t signed for McLaren as a double World Champion just to be eclipsed by McLaren’s home-grown talent in his first year.

But eclipsed Alonso was on that occasion, with Hamilton coming home 1.5 seconds clear of his angry teammate. It was the latest flashpoint in an increasingly acrimonious partnership, with tensions from Monaco and Canada starting to boil over.

The situation would eventually explode into an incredibly tense atmosphere between the two McLaren drivers, with the Spygate scandal also emerging before season end, with then-team boss Ron Dennis struggling to control the dynamic that eventually saw Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen pip both to the title.

9. 2008 Monaco GP – 3rd to 1st

Granted, there was a little bit of fortune needed for this one, as Hamilton made an error early on that actually ended up playing well into his hands.

Having qualified third behind the two Ferraris, Hamilton capitalised upon a hesitant start from Kimi Raikkonen to move into second place. Slowly but surely being dropped by Felipe Massa in the tricky wet conditions, Hamilton ran wide at Tabac and hit the barriers – resulting in a right-rear puncture.

Hamilton was fortunate to avoid any serious damage and, having only had the third sector to negotiatie, didn’t actually lose much time as he came back out in fifth.

Massa was sprinting away at the front, opening up a lead of 12 seconds over Raikkonen, but this came to nothing as the Safety Car was deployed to cover a mistake from Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard made the same error as Hamilton at Massenet.

Raikkonen, running second, then fell out of contention as he was given a penalty for failing to have all his tyres fitted at the three-minute mark before the race began, while an error from Massa before his pitstop handed the lead to Robert Kubica.

Kubica stopped on Lap 26, with Massa stopping on Lap 33, but Hamilton, who had taken on a big fuel load along with his fresh tyres after his mistake, was out of sequence. Capitalising on the free air, he opened up a lead of 37 seconds by the time he stopped on Lap 54.

With the track drying out, Hamilton was able to make the swap directly from the worn intermediate to the dry tyre at just the opportune moment – something he wouldn’t have been able to do had he been stuck with his original strategy before making the mistake.

Hamilton duly crossed the line three seconds clear of Kubica, turning what could have been a disaster of a race into one of many triumphs that contributed to his maiden title.

8. 2018 German GP – 14th to 1st

Heading to Hockenheim for Sebastian Vettel’s home race in 2018, the stakes were incredibly high. Momentum was on the side of Ferrari who, after four years of Mercedes domination, looked to have their rivals genuinely on the ropes.

With Vettel enjoying a slender eight-point lead over Hamilton, the cards played out beautifully for the home hero in qualifying.

A hydraulic issue consigned Hamilton to a 14th-place grid slot, with the World Champion obviously distraught as he clambered out of his broken Mercedes at the side of the track. Vettel duly went on to take pole position, seemingly a further nail in the coffin for Hamilton’s title defence.

Hamilton duly managed to carve his way through the field in the first half of the race, helped by a power unit failure on Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, while Bottas played the team game as Mercedes tried gamely to hang on to the leading Ferraris.

The turning point came with 20 laps to go, as light rain began to drizzle on the track. Vettel, having been frazzled by needing Raikkonen’s co-operation to take back the race lead after losing time to the Mercedes behind, made a critical error on slick tyres negotiating the stadium.

Sliding off into the barriers, Vettel was furious with himself for making the error as he got on the radio to tearfully apologise for the championship-breaking error.

Hamilton stayed out on track on his fresh ultrasoft tyres and had to weather an attack from Bottas – which was quickly called off by Mercedes – and, from 14th on the grid on a day where Vettel started from pole, the British driver came home with a 17-point championship lead and went unassailed in the championship lead for the remainder of the year.

7. 2014 Bahrain GP – 2nd to 1st

The first proper duel between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the rivalry that would see the former friends dissolve into bitter loathing over the next three years took place in the desert heat of the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Having won in Australia after technical problems hit Hamilton, Rosberg came home a distant second in Malaysia, but responded with pole position in Bahrain.

But Hamilton stormed into the lead off the line, with the two Mercedes drivers romping away at the front – no-one else even came close in the early days of the hybrid era.

Rosberg closely stalked Hamilton, diving down the inside into Turn 1 on Lap 19. But Hamilton was canny to it, and repassed him accelerating away from the corner.

Mercedes then, unusually, split strategies – Hamilton taking softs for the middle stint, while Rosberg took on the medium. For the final stint, it meant battle was inevitable as Rosberg came back at his teammate on the soft compound.

Rosberg’s job was made even easier by a Safety Car intervention, meaning he had 10 laps to get past Hamilton, equipped with the advantage of a faster tyre compound.

But, no matter what, Rosberg couldn’t find a way by. Hamilton put in a masterclass in defence, with the then-two-time World Champion positioning his car perfectly to continuously frustrate Rosberg’s efforts.

At the chequered flag, Rosberg and Hamilton had a friendly exchange in the paddock, with Rosberg only admitting years later to his frustration at having been beaten in such fashion.

It was a hugely emphatic win that laid down a marker for Hamilton as Mercedes began their period of domination and, really, it wasn’t until 2016 that Rosberg properly had a regular answer for his teammate.

6. 2020 Turkish GP – 6th to 1st

On the day where Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles, it took a special drive from the British driver as Mercedes struggled for performance on the unusually slippery ice rank-like surface of Istanbul Park.

Having qualified just sixth, with Valtteri Bottas in ninth, he made a heroic start to move up to third off the line. But, by the end of Lap 1, Hamilton was back down in sixth after making a mistake and running wide coming onto the back straight.

But the race slowly but surely came to Hamilton from there, as he pitted for intermediates at the end of Lap 8. Showing good pace on the intermediates, a further mistake on Lap 16 while trying to pass Vettel moved him back down to sixth.

But Hamilton didn’t panic and, from there, the race began to come to him. Rising to fifth as Verstappen spun while battling Perez, that quickly became fourth as Albon spun off right in front of him.

Ferrari brought Vettel in for another set of intermediates, promoting Hamilton to third, rising to second when Stroll pitted for fresh tyres. With Perez staying out in the lead, Hamilton caught and passed the Racing Point driver, as both began to enjoy the grip being offered by the worn intermediates on a very gradually drying surface.

Hamilton would go on to win by over 30 seconds, in what was the third-largest winning margin of his career to date. With over 50 laps done on the same set of intermediates, it was an astonishing display of tyre management and patience, on a day where teammate Bottas finished in 14th and a lap down after spinning umpteen times…

5. 2009 Hungarian GP – 4th to 1st

Hamilton’s 10th F1 victory was notable for a few reasons. Not only was it the first time the British driver won at a track he’d won at before, it was the very first victory for a car using ‘hybrid’ technology – his McLaren utilising the KERS that some of the teams had rolled out that season.

But what was most astonishing of all was the fact that Hamilton’s win came after a run of terrible results as McLaren (and Ferrari) had failed to nail the new regulations.

That was the season in which Red Bull and Brawn GP (now Mercedes) stepped forward for the first time, but that didn’t mean McLaren and Ferrari would go without their own successes.

McLaren brought along a huge upgrade package for the MP4/24 in Germany that very obviously transformed the car. Much akin to the 2023 turnaround, the change was instantaneous and fortunes were very different in Hungary.

Qualifying fourth for the race, just two-tenths from pole, Hamilton immediately got past Vettel as the German driver made a slow start. A back-and-forth with Webber ended up going Hamilton’s way, as he utilised the energy deployment from his KERS to out-drag the Australian out of Turn 1 and move up to second to begin his pursuit of the leading Alonso.

The Spaniard was in fine form for Renault but couldn’t do much about Hamilton’s pace, with only a slender lead in hand as he pitted on Lap 12. He was released with the right-front wheel incorrectly attached, and it came loose on his out-lap. Alonso was forced to retire, albeit due to an unrelated fuel pump issue rather than the errant wheel (for which the team was also fined).

Only Kimi Raikkonen’s KERS-equipped Ferrari, a combo which would win its first race of 2009 a few weeks later at Spa, could come anywhere near Hamilton for the remainder of the afternoon, but it still wasn’t close.

Hamilton came home to win his first race since the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix, and his first win as a World Champion, more than 10 seconds clear of the rest of the pack. It was to be his sole race win from his first title defence season, but Hungary marked a distinctive turning point.

4. 2020 British GP – 1st to 1st

Perhaps one of the races that simply encapsulated Hamilton’s years of dominance with Mercedes, this was the race in which he had so much of a lead that, when the wheels did come off – literally – he was still able to win.

Having taken pole by three-tenths of a second over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, all had gone according to plan throughout the entire race.

That was until three laps to go, when Bottas suffered a tyre delamination that cost him any chance of a podium. A lap later, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also suffered a front-left delamination.

Taking precautions, Red Bull chose to bring in second-place Max Verstappen and give him fresh tyres in order to head off the possibility of a failure – but this bit them, hard, on the final lap.

Hamilton, negotiating Turn 8, suffered the same tyre failure as his teammate. But, with a huge lead due to the incidents and stops behind him, was able to keep going – trundling his Mercedes around the track in a desperate reach for the chequered flag.

Astonishingly, he made it. Just 5.8 seconds separated Hamilton and his now very worse-for-wear Mercedes from Verstappen at the finish line, with Red Bull forcing rictus grins about having had the opportunity to prevent a then-commonplace Mercedes win.

3. 2012 United States GP – 2nd to 1st

Heading to the first United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas, Hamilton had had to watch on as Sebastian Vettel stormed to a third consecutive title.

With the German driver taking pole in Austin, Hamilton underlined the threat he posed by qualifying on the front row, but his challenge seemed to fade almost immediately as he dropped to third behind Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

But Hamilton wasn’t to be stopped on this occasion, as caught and passed Webber on Lap 4 to then attempt to hunt down Vettel.

Vettel was able to maintain the gap at just over two seconds, but clearly had no additional pace to pull away from the pursuing Hamilton. Worse, his lead shrunk as the pair encountered traffic at an inopportune moment, allowing Hamilton to latch on into the DRS zone.

Hamilton thus took his chance in the closing stages, using DRS to overtake Vettel – no mean feat in those days – heading down the back straight.

It was one of Hamilton’s few victories during the stuttering end to his McLaren tenure before he jumped ship to Mercedes to start afresh.

2. 2021 Brazilian GP – 10th to 1st

Really, this was a last-to-first drive if you include the duration of the Sprint race, but we’ll stick to what the official records are.

Qualifying in first in Brazil at the height of the Mercedes/Red Bull, Hamilton/Verstappen 2021 title fight, Hamilton was disqualified after the Friday qualifying session after his DRS flap was found to open a fraction too wide.

This led to him starting the Sprint from last on the grid, but there was no stopping Hamilton. Slicing his way decisively through the pack, Hamilton’s rise was like a hot knife through butter as he exploited the pace of his Mercedes to finish fifth. But, due to taking a fresh ICE on Friday, Hamilton was demoted five places to start the Grand Prix from 10th.

Unsurprisingly, that pace continued into the Grand Prix, with Hamilton making a storming start to climb to seventh as the Red Bulls assumed a 1-2 position up front.

By the end of Lap 1, he was up to fifth and, a few laps later, into third as Mercedes ordered Bottas aside. A hint as to Mercedes’ pace came moments later as Perez could do nothing to defend against Hamilton’s comeback, with the Mexican overtaken around the outside of Turn 1.

On Lap 48, the flashpoint came. Having caught Verstappen, the Dutch driver was always going to put up a far more stern defence than the rest – Verstappen duly yielding nothing into Turn 4 as Hamilton tried to pass around the outside.

Both ran off into the escape area but, with 23 laps to go and Hamilton visibly quicker, the writing was on the wall – even for Verstappen. 10 laps later, Hamilton managed to pull off the move he’d been threatening and he duly took the win ahead of his title rival.

Surely the remaining races in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi couldn’t be any more dramatic?

1. 2008 British GP – 4th to 1st (by a country mile!)

In our eyes, Hamilton’s most incredible performance in Formula 1, and it came pretty early on too.

In just his second season in Formula 1, Hamilton responded in fine fashion to the home crowd support to put in one of the classic wet-weather performances that ranks right up there with the likes of Ayrton Senna at Donington ’93 and Michael Schumacher in Barcelona in 1996.

Having qualified in fourth for the wet-but-not-soaking start, Hamilton hooked up his getaway to get alongside polesitter and teammate Heikki Kovalainen into Copse, having vaulted past Mark Webber and reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Just seconds later, both Webber and Hamilton’s title rival Felipe Massa were facing the wrong way due to separate spins – indicative of the tricky conditions at an increasingly sodden Silverstone.

On Lap 5, Hamilton cleared Kovalainen with a simple pass into Stowe, leading a McLaren 1-2 as Raikkonen gamely held on in third.

Raikkonen then moved past his compatriot as Kovalainen slid off backwards into the grass, and looked to be able to keep up with Hamilton’s pace as the pair came into the pits on Lap 21 just a few seconds apart.

But Ferrari made a critical error by leaving Raikkonen on the same set of intermediates – a gamble that can sometimes pay off (as it did for Hamilton in Turkey in 2020!), but it wasn’t to be on this occasion.

With the rain intensifying, Ferrari watched on with their heads low as Raikkonen rapidly fell backward and was forced to pit again on Lap 30 for fresh tyres.

Up front, no-one ever came close to Hamilton again. Locking into the zone that the very best are capable of, Hamilton was so fast that McLaren even requested him to slow down due to fear he’d make a mistake in the tricky conditions.

With Hamilton protesting he’d lost concentration otherwise, his pace remained unabated right to the flag as he came home over a minute clear of second-placed Nick Heidfeld, and even managed to lap the frustrated Raikkonen after Ferrari’s faux pas.

Hamilton has won 96 races in the 15 years since, but his win at Silverstone 2008 – just his seventh in F1 – remains the most impressive display of driving grandeur the now seven-time World Champion has ever produced.

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