As the curtain comes down on another F1 season, it’s time for a look at those all-time records and milestones.
Many believed that Michael Schumacher’s seven world championships and 91 GP victories would never be surpassed. When would a driver that good find himself in a team as dominant as early noughties Ferrari?
“I never thought I would be the one to say it, but Lewis Hamilton really is the one who could beat Michael Schumacher’s records.” said Ross Brawn recently, the man who oversaw all that Maranello success.
It’s looking good for Hamilton. He has 84 victories to his name, and six world titles. Since the start of F1’s hybrid era in 2014, he has averaged more than 10 race wins per season with Mercedes. Is there any reason why that will change in 2020?
For those who think it’s all about the car, Hamilton insists it doesn’t come easy.
SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON 6-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION “So from my point of view, it’s delivering at the most crucial moments. So it’s qualifying, third qualifying -- and first you have to get there. But then delivering so that you are at the front. It’s the start of the race -- not losing your cool. It’s during the race, whilst you’re under attack or attacking. It’s managing your tyres. There’s so many aspects throughout the whole weekend, and that goes on throughout the year.”
Hamilton’s percentages are right up there too. Juan-Manuel Fangio has the best GP wins to starts ratio of all time, at 47%. Another fifties driver, Alberto Ascari, also won over 40% of his races. In the sixties, twice world champion Jim Clark won 34.7% of his.
Right behind him, winning a third of his F1 races is Hamilton, Abu Dhabi bringing up a milestone 250th GP start.
By way of comparison, Schumacher won 29.7% of his races, Jackie Stewart 27.2%, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were almost identical and Stirling Moss won 24.2%, despite never claiming a world championship.
Kimi Raikkonen is on track to be a record-breaker too. If not for outright success, certainly for F1 career longevity.
The Swiss-based Finn passed the age of 40 in October and, in Abu Dhabi, he passed Fernando Alonso’s 311 Grand Prix starts, making him the second most prolific F1 driver ever. He will become the most experienced at Spa next year, when he overtakes Rubens Barrichello.
For Raikkonen, it looks like ending where it started -- with Sauber.
SOUNDBITE (English): KIMI RAIKKONEN 2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION “It’s hard to forget it’s the first time I was in an F1 car, with Sauber at the end of 2000, and then obviously the first year in 2001 I had a good year. I lived here at that time already in Switzerland and I’m still living here, so I think it’s great memories.”
Raikkonen, of course, had been successful too. Apart from his ‘07 world title, he has led 83 Grands Prix and has finished more races in the points than any driver other than Schumacher prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton now joins him after his dominant victory.