With Lewis Hamilton having coasted to another Formula 1 title in 2020, we have taken a detailed look at how he ranks against the sport’s legends and whether he can be considered the greatest driver of all time.
In terms of racing success the argument is clearly in his favour. Hamilton has more race wins than any other driver and surpassed the previous record holder Michael Schumacher’s tally at a much younger age.
He has also smashed the record for podium finishes and is already 10 clear of the previous highest total, which was also held by Schumacher.
One driver could yet surpass him: Sebastian Vettel. An explosive start to his F1 career saw him achieve far more by his mid-20s than either Hamilton or Schumacher.
While the German’s career stalled somewhat after his fourth world championship, he is still roughly on a par with Hamilton at the same age and could therefore challenge the English driver’s dominance if he can rediscover his previous form.
Lewis Hamilton: Qualifying king
Hamilton’s main strength compared to his contemporaries has been his consistency during qualifying, with only three drivers in the entire history of the sport able to better his average grid position of fourth.
Over the last 20 seasons, no driver has finished closer to the best qualifying lap time on average, as his 98 pole positions will attest.
Even when qualifying has not gone his way, he has proven excellent at recovering ground: only five drivers in Formula 1 history with 50 or more races to their name have recorded a higher percentage of wins after starting behind the second row of the grid.
Stevenage’s most famous son has also excelled at guiding his car around the track in one piece, with current team-mate Valtteri Bottas the only driver in the sport’s history to have entered at least 50 races and completed a higher proportion of them.
Hamilton also has both the highest percentage of podium finishes and top-10 finishes among this group of drivers, having recently overtaken the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio in the former list.
Fangio remains the only driver who has won a higher percentage of the races he has entered than Hamilton, though, with the gap sufficiently large to make it unlikely that the Englishman will surpass him.
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