From this level onward, Lewis Hamilton is in virgin territory. No one within the historical past of Formulation One has received greater than 91 grands prix in a profession, however proper now there isn’t a telling how far he would possibly go.
For the previous six years he has averaged greater than 10 wins a season, so prolong that common over one other two or three years with a dominant Mercedes staff and also you’re already over 110 and knocking on 120.
However do not fall into the lure of pondering such a milestone is in any means assured.
Simply as his 91 victories so far had been a results of a severe dedication to his craft, persevering with the profitable streak past 100 would require new ranges of efficiency to be unlocked. Because the previous saying goes: stand nonetheless in Formulation One and also you go backwards.
Far too usually Hamilton’s win file is attributed to his automotive slightly than his expertise and work ethic. It is a lazy assumption primarily based on a lack of awareness about each the driving force and his sport.
“I’ve learn that, and in my view, that is not fairly honest,” Mercedes staff principal Toto Wolff mentioned when requested in regards to the topic. “Profitable races and profitable championships on this sport is at all times a staff train, however you’ll want to put your self able that you find yourself in one of the best automotive.
“You possibly can see numerous abilities and expert drivers took fallacious selections, or not well-advised selections, and in that respect it was him who joined Mercedes in 2013 and it’s him that sits within the automotive and is ready to execute on observe with the instruments that we offer to him, however it’s at all times the 2 which can be a part of this.
“We could not obtain the information that we have now [without him], and he most likely could not obtain the information with out the proper automotive, and full cease.
“I do not need to permit these voices that say ‘nicely, he drives a Mercedes, it is apparent that he wins these races’.
“The drivers who say that, they need to try to analyse why they have not discovered their means right into a Mercedes.”
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has labored with Hamilton since 2013 and sees first-hand what he has delivered to it. He was additionally Michael Schumacher’s race engineer at Mercedes between 2010 and 2012, so he is aware of a factor or two about what how the perfect drivers stand aside from the remainder.
“Lewis’ rivals would possibly prefer to assume he’s simply quick within the automotive however does not put the hours in, however he is really one of many hardest-working guys we have ever recognized,” Shovlin mentioned. “The extra he understands about tyres, about how the automotive works and learn how to use all of the out there instruments, the extra he is ready to take that data and construct it into his driving.
“It is simply the relentless means he appears at each missed alternative as one thing that wants fixing earlier than the subsequent race and he goes off and works on it with Bono [his race engineer Peter Bonnington], Marcus [Dudley, Hamilton’s performance engineer] and the broader engineering staff making an attempt to know any points.
“It is simply the way in which he’s continually constructing his talent set, and he is so lengthy right into a profession that you just would possibly assume a driver would prime out their talent set, however Lewis retains discovering new and various things to do to get one of the best out of the automotive and the tyres.”
There is a case to say that with out Mercedes’ mother or father firm Daimler investing closely in its staff forward of 2014, Hamilton wouldn’t have loved such a protracted interval of sustained success and wouldn’t have matched Schumacher’s file on Sunday. However simply as Schumacher was a vital part in Jean Todt’s imaginative and prescient to rebuild Ferrari within the late Nineties, signing Hamilton was a essential a part of Daimler’s funding.
Because the staff stands on the point of a seventh consecutive title, it’s unimaginable to measure how a lot of that interval of success could be attributed to the engineering prowess at its factories, how a lot could be attributed to the cash from Daimler and the way a lot could be attributed to the expertise within the cockpit. One or two of these elements alone with out the others merely would not have been in a position to attain the identical heights.
And simply because the Mercedes staff has improved with Hamilton within the cockpit, so has Hamilton with the Mercedes staff round him.
“If you happen to wound again to when he joined in 2013, he was a really completely different character out and in of the automotive,” Shovlin added. “Clearly, our staff has developed so much and we have now received higher, however quite a lot of that’s as a result of we have now developed how we work with Lewis to get one of the best out of him and he has labored on learn how to get one of the best out of the staff.
“When he began with us, he was immediately fast, he was sensible at profitable races and he has that means to dig deep and ship no matter he needed to on a Sunday to maintain the hopes alive of a win. Now he is a lot extra tactical in how he views the air round that and the way he works.
“He isn’t simply on the lookout for the enhancements in the way in which he can drive the automotive, it is the entire means he’s main his life and approaching the enterprise of being an expert racing driver.
“Yr on yr, we come again in preseason testing and he is a barely improved model of the man we noticed on the final race in Abu Dhabi. However the stage he’s at now could be severely spectacular.
“It is about consistency and the relentless means he’s going about delivering up the factors and the world championships.”
From his place within the cockpit, Hamilton echoes Shovlin’s viewpoint. He discovered to cease listening to his detractors years in the past and is aware of that these judging from the skin merely haven’t got the total image.
For him it has at all times been a collaboration with the staff and either side have wanted to carry their A-game to maintain Mercedes on the prime. Seen by that prism, you can begin to know why the information of each Hamilton and Schumacher are thus far away from the remainder.
“If you hear a few of these issues [about winning because of the best car], it is not at all times the nicest factor to listen to, however I am not mad at it,” Hamilton mentioned on Sunday night. “What I do know is people who usually say these issues or make these feedback, they simply do not know.
“I feel usually in life we are able to usually give the fallacious opinion when we do not have the total info or have the total information of the way it actually is. However sure, having now been within the sport this lengthy, I can see that years in the past once they talked about Michael turning Ferrari round, the actual fact is that it isn’t one particular person that may do this.
“I’ve not turned Mercedes round, Michael didn’t flip Ferrari round. As a lot as I really like Michael and he’s a legend, it wasn’t simply him, there’s so many individuals round within the background. It’s the collaboration.
“The factor with drivers like Michael and me, our job is to sort of be the rudder. You’ve got received this big highly effective drive behind you with such intelligence, however a pc and numbers can solely inform you what the right automotive is in concept, it could possibly’t apply the human factor.
“If you apply that, which is myself or Michael — the driving force — I feel that is one thing the pc cannot simulate and that is really feel, that is yaw, the sensation of the automotive turning and pitching and all these various things.
“So our job is to level them in the proper course to maneuver ahead, and proceed to raise and hopefully encourage the blokes you’re employed with. That is one thing I have been extremely happy with.
“There are such a lot of folks in my staff, and within the sport typically in these groups, which can be exceptional folks. All of us have these instruments, it’s how we use and apply them and do you let your ego in the way in which?
“There are some individuals who simply do not pay attention as they do not see the wooden from the timber. However the good thing from this staff is I’ve not confronted that when.
“There’s solely perhaps one instance, and I am not going to inform you who it’s, however we hashed that out, we laughed about it, however we received to a spot the place we realised that we are able to each method it higher and it is simply made us higher colleagues and also you see a number of the development we have had has come from these open discussions.”
Evaluating Hamilton with Schumacher
On a day when Hamilton matched Schumacher’s win file, the GOAT debate was at all times going to resurface. It is now clear that Hamilton will surpass Schumacher’s 91 victories, however for a lot of followers of the game that statistic will imply subsequent to nothing.
Any severe F1 GOAT dialogue must also embrace Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna — to call however three — and comes with the caveat of evaluating throughout eras.
However with Hamilton and Schumacher there’s a minimum of some crossover. Though their intervals of dominance stay break up by over a decade, they shared a racetrack between 2010 and 2012 and each raced for a similar Mercedes staff inside a yr of one another. However slightly than arguing about what units them aside, maybe there’s extra to study from what makes them alike.
“The 2 characters could not be extra completely different, however when you take a look at how they drive, there are similarities,” Shovlin mentioned. “When Michael arrived at our staff, the factor that stood out with him was the way in which he would at all times go after marginal features, and it did not matter if it was 0.01s, he would attempt to get it and he would accumulate these up.
“Michael additionally had a capability to drive no matter [car] stability was quickest. If it was an understeering automotive, he would do it. If he wanted to maneuver the work onto the entrance tyres, he might. And so he was very adaptable in his driving type.
“These are two traits that Lewis very a lot has. Lots of the nice drivers have no specific type, it is simply no matter they should adapt to, they’ll do it.
“It did not matter what number of belongings you advised Michael to do on a lap, he would do them. Whether or not it was shifting brake bias to take care of tyres or no matter he wanted to do to get them in the proper window, he would do it.
“Once more that is one trait that Lewis has; you possibly can simply hold layering one factor on prime of one other and he does not neglect it, and you then may give him extra issues to do and he simply provides it on prime.
“So the way in which they’re within the automotive, they’re really extra related than you would possibly assume. It is simply out of the automotive they’re two fairly completely different folks.”
Maybe one of many keys to Hamilton’s success is that he is not hung up on comparisons. As a lot as he acknowledged the importance of equalling Schumacher’s file on Sunday, it was by no means a goal or an finish level in his profession.
Even now he does not have a goal in thoughts or a quantity on which he can be happy sufficient to hold up his helmet and retire. As a substitute Hamilton is concentrated on the current. Targeted on what he can obtain on the subsequent race and the way finest to do it.
“There’s quite a lot of discuss, in all sport, of biggest previous and current, however I feel it is virtually unimaginable to check folks like that,” he mentioned. “I feel it is completely different instances and we’re evolving as human beings.
“If you happen to might put all the highest drivers which have been probably the most profitable within the sport and put them in the identical vehicles, would not that be one thing? However all of the discuss of who’s and who’s not, that is not essential to me, what’s essential is the journey on this time and whereas I have been right here.
“I am happy with what I have been in a position to do and the way I’ve navigated by. I’ve positively made numerous errors, however that is life, all of us do this.
“I feel, sure, you possibly can positively be remembered for having probably the most wins and that can be one thing particular to have, however as I mentioned, it is the journey, it is what we have carried out alongside the way in which, it is obstacles you’ve got confronted, and everybody’s received a unique journey and a unique means of doing issues.”
What comes subsequent?
The subsequent milestone on Hamilton’s journey can be a seventh world title. Given his championship lead of 69 factors over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in second place, it is virtually inconceivable that it will not occur this yr.
If he can prolong that result in 104 factors when the chequered flag falls on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, two races from now, he’ll safe the title there. However a extra probably end result is a lead in extra of 78 factors after the Turkish Grand Prix in mid-November, securing the title with three races remaining.
It is one other file that can draw comparisons with Schumacher, however remarkably it is one the German noticed coming as way back as 2008.
“I’d say, completely, sure [he could win seven titles],” Schumacher mentioned after Hamilton secured his first title 12 years in the past. “No one thought, even me, that I might beat [five-time world champion] Fangio. Then I did.
“Information are there to be overwhelmed.”
Equally, wherever Hamilton leaves the brand new benchmark when he retires will not be unbeatable. It is easy to imagine nobody will match the Mercedes driver, however Max Verstappen, on 9 wins, is already 10 p.c of the way in which to 91 at simply over 23 years previous.
On the similar age, Hamilton had 4 wins to his identify after only one yr in F1, indicating how a lot of a head begin Verstappen already has on Hamilton. After all, to succeed in Hamilton’s heights, he wants to have the ability to be part of a profitable staff in the identical means that Hamilton has been at Mercedes — no imply feat, as talked about above — however there’s little doubt the uncooked expertise is there.
And so, simply as Schumacher’s file appeared untouchable till Hamilton got here alongside, Hamilton’s file will appear untouchable till the subsequent nice driver comes alongside and proves their value.
“There will be another person, whether or not it’s Max or whoever it might be, who’s going to be chasing the file that I finally set,” Hamilton mentioned. “It will be the fallacious sort of attribute and method [from me] to be hoping he does not break it.
“Try to be encouraging it and hoping that they reside to their full potential, and if meaning attending to that file, that is wonderful.”