It's an endless discussion as to who the best driver is, and where Damon Hill said you can't compare old drivers...
The classic road to Formula 1 via karting, Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2, was taken by the now six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. The young Briton appeared at the start of the first Grand Prix in 2007 and would shake the grid from that moment on.
|Team||Mercedes AMG F1|
The road to dominance
From the very first moment that Hamilton took place in a racing car, the British raked in successes. His victories in the European Formula 3 series and his immediate capture of the title with ART in his first Formula 2 season saw him immediately qualify for a spot at McLaren in F1.
Max Verstappen already said it in an interview in 2018 that you depend on the material you get to win the title. Lewis Hamilton was also ready for it in his first year, the Dutchman said. Nevertheless, Lewis was one point short to hijack the title in front of Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari.
One year later it was a hit and from that moment on the Brit went through life as youngest world champion ever. A record that would only stand for a few years until Sebastian Vettel showed his ability in the Red Bull.
One point short for the title in 2007, but taking the title in 2008, Lewis Hamilton had a taste for the title, but should have been frustrated for a year in the king's league. McLaren was unable to continue the strong development of the MP4-23 and did not get significant results. Hamilton didn't get any further than P5 that season, but change was on its way.
With a change of teammate next to him at McLaren, the now experienced Jenson Button came to Lewis in 2010. The also British racer had won the title the year before with Brawn GP, which was renamed Mercedes in 2010. That renaming also meant the return of Michael Schumacher in the king's class, but the departure of Button to McLaren.
Although McLaren seemed to have found the right form again, Red Bull dominated Formula 1 for four years, starting from 2010. Lewis Hamilton could not change that and took a huge risk. The British racer would move to the Mercedes factory team after the 2012 season. A race stable that was far from performing well at the time. Unlike his former rival (and teammate) Fernando Alonso, Hamilton’s decision would turn out to be the right choice.
Aboard the dominance
In the Mercedes factory team the development of the car goes just as fast as the car itself. In the first season with the German team, Lewis Hamilton even managed to grab several podiums and a victory. The Hungarian Grand Prix would be to his name and would be the start of a long, dominant period with Mercedes.
In 2014 and 2015, Lewis Hamilton trumped his teammate Nico Rosberg and took titles number two and three, putting Lewis on par with the legendary Ayrton Senna in terms of number of titles won. The relationship within the team is clearly not getting any better and reaches its boiling point in 2016. That same year Nico Rosberg finally manages to win the championship and leaves no stone unturned. The German announces his departure from Formula 1.
An unexpected decision, also for Mercedes, which makes it necessary to look for a replacement in a hurry. This is found in the form of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. From the 2017 season the Finn can be found next to Lewis Hamilton, albeit as an obvious second violin.
In the two years that Bottas is driving the second Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton again wins the title. Competition only comes in the form of Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, not from the other Mercedes.
In 2019 that competition seems reborn, if Bottas wins the first race in Australia directly. However, the revival of the Finn turns out to be short-lived, as Hamilton soon finds his old form and wins race after race. Halfway through the season Mercedes loses the dominant position at the start of the year, but that doesn't stop Hamilton from taking his sixth title.
Lewis Hamilton in 2020
With his sixth world title in his pocket, the legendary number of seven world titles suddenly comes very close. Michael Schumacher's record seemed unattainable for any living creature, but records are there to be broken, it seems.
Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have been working for years to close the gap and for 2020 seems to be the biggest chance. In addition, the teams with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, respectively, have captured the greatest talents of the new generation for years and the battle could start.
Hamilton has already faced a challenge in his career and knows better than anyone how eager young drivers are to prove themselves against a multiple champion. However, 'Still I rise' is Lewis' motto for a reason. The Briton will fight to the bitter end and the championship is certainly not a gift.
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