On his birthday: Should Lewis Hamilton be classed as the greatest F1 driver ever?

07-01-2020 16:07
by Matt Gretton
Column
On his birthday: Should Lewis Hamilton be classed as the greatest F1 driver ever?

It's constantly getting harder to argue against those who believe Lewis Hamilton is the greatest driver ever to compete in Formula 1. The British driver, who celebrates his 35th birthday today (Tuesday, January 7), virtually cruised to a sixth world championship in 2019 and concluded the season in Abu Dhabi with one of his most dominant performances of the decade just when it seemed like Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing were going to gain some winter break momentum. 

Having the best car...

Ahead of the 2013 F1 season, Hamilton made the best move of his life. It might not have been a literal overtake, but the signing for Mercedes prevented him from slipping down towards the back of the grid with McLaren. The majority of the Silver Arrows effort was focused on the engine era change and that paid off in a monumental style. 

Being at Mercedes has certainly provided Hamilton with a stage to showcase his talents in full at the front of the grid. He's taken that opportunity with both hands. Only Nico Rosberg, a Mercedes driver himself, managed to make a dent in Hamilton's successful spell. And even in that year, Hamilton ensured the battle lasted until the final race of the season. His never give up fighting attitude hasn't been highlighted brighter after winning the final four races of the 2016 season which would have given him the title had he not had an engine failure in Malaysia. 

Rosberg suddenly retired after winning the crown. 

What's to come in 2020?

More Mercedes dominance? Or will Ferrari and Red Bull Racing finally find enough pace consistently? Or can Valtteri Bottas cause more trouble than he has done previously? Whatever, you'd be a brave person to bet against Hamilton winning the title again in 2020. Presuming that happens, Hamilton would then equal Michael Schumacher's so-far elusive seven world championships.

Even though the man from Stevenage is getting older, he's showing no signs of easing off. In fact, he said himself after the conclusion of the 2019 season that he was feeling fresh and ready for more. It's likely that he signs another Mercedes contract at some point during the 2020 season which would move him towards some uncharted territory...2021. 

The rule and regulation overhaul set to strike the sport in 2021 will produce significantly different cars. Ideally, these cars will be closer together and we'll see a lot more battles at the front of the grid. That's kind of the point. 

If this transition to 2021 is successful, we should be able to see more talent and more skills from Hamilton as he fights the youngsters. And if Hamilton comes out as 2021 world champion, with a completely different car, then he surely becomes the almost unanimous pick for the greatest ever. Over Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark? 

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Is Lewis Hamilton the best driver of all time?

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