Last weekend Lewis Hamilton matched the great Michael Schumacher’s incredible 91 wins in Formula 1. In a touching moment Schumacher’s son Mick handed over one of his father’s helmets from his last season with Mercedes in 2012, commemorating the special achievement. If he was not already, Hamilton has cemented himself as one of the best ever in Formula 1.
However, there are still those who question the greatness of Hamilton. Jackie Stewart, for example, has been quoted as saying that Hamilton has an “almost unfair advantage” over the others on the grid due to the superiority of Mercedes and believes the greatest ever is “Juan Manuel Fangio, followed by Jim Clark.” And Stewart does raise some valid points, however, the one I agree with the most, is that it is almost impossible to compare. Each great has competed in an entirely different era, with a variety of factors making every achievement both easier in some areas and harder in others.
Murray Walker on the other hand quite rightly points out that Hamilton leads the way in nearly every single statistic in F1. And statistics don’t lie, it is remarkable that Hamilton has 91 wins, which amounts to just over 4 full seasons. And he isn’t finished yet, it feels as if Hamilton could keep on driving and winning well into his late thirties, smashing all the records he has already broken. Surely it will not be long until he soars past the 100 wins milestone as well as matching Schumacher’s 7 world championship titles. When it comes to a discussion of who is the greatest of all time it is hard to ignore Hamilton’s dominant statistics.
But Walker also points to Hamilton’s driving style, suggesting that Schumacher and Senna both has questionable and controversial driving tactics, for example, Senna in Japan in 1990 and Schumacher’s antics during qualifying at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton, Murray claims, has never done anything like that himself, making him the superior driver. Again, I have to agree, the fact that Hamilton was achieved what he has done in a clean way shows that he relies purely on his driving ability instead of the more contentious tactics others have used.
I find myself caught between wanting to declare who I think is the best ever, but also feeling unable to do so because of the sheer variety of ways that Formula 1 has developed over the years. In a way it is far harder to compare cross generational talents in a sport where the advancement of technology has such a significant effect than it is to compare, for example, football players. Perhaps we may even have to wait until the new 2022 regulations are put in place to fully understand how much of a talent Lewis Hamilton is, but, in my mind, he is undoubtedly the greatest of his generation of drivers, and, perhaps instead of consistently trying to compare to others, we should just enjoy what we get to witness with him.
What do you think? Is Hamilton the Greatest of all time?
Featured image credit to Formula 1’s Facebook page