Lewis Hamilton blazed a trail of success early in his F1 career. But it seemed he might remain a one-off champion until he arrived at Mercedes, who soon supplied him with the instruments to become an undisputed great.
Recall those stunning early races in 2007 when the scale of the new talent we were witnessing was coming into focus. That audacious start in Australia, sweeping around Robert Kubica and the sister McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Dispensing with both Ferraris at the start of his second race. The astonishing feat of a rookie driver beginning his F1 career with nine consecutive podium finishes – something his rivals in similarly competitive cars failed to equal.
By mid-2007 it seemed Hamilton couldn’t put a wheel wrong. What was the weakness of this wunderkind who was heading the championship standings with more than a win in hand over his reigning twice-champion team mate?
It was almost a relief to discover he was fallible after all. Even so, he would have been a rookie champion but for an unfathomable strategic blunder in China. Twelve months later he came back and got the job done. But by then not only was there no longer doubts over his strengths as a driver, the same could also be said of his weaknesses.
As in his rookie season, Hamilton’s first championship year featured days when he was completely untouchable (China), wet weather performances on a par with anything seen before in F1 (Britain) and further demonstrations of his excellence in wheel-to-wheel combat (Belgium, notwithstanding the stewards’ contemptible decision to confiscate his victory). But there were also times when his racing nous appeared to desert him: a comical incident in the Montreal pits with Raikkonen was followed by a wasted weekend in Magny-Cours.
It’s a trait that hasn’t gone away: he’s romped to win after win this year, yet spoiled his race in Hungary with clumsy errors. But Hamilton achieves the sublime much more often than the ridiculous.
In the intervening years between his first title and the next two, Hamilton repeatedly demonstrated the kind of class which marked him out as a deserving multiple champion. His 2010 campaign was arguably one of his best: he was one of four drivers still in the hunt for the title at the end of the year despite the McLaren giving away slightly too much in outright performance compared to the Red Bull and Ferrari.
Two years later he had a very competitive car underneath him and wielded it to brilliant effect, but persistent reliability trouble put the kibosh on his championship hopes. It was after one such failure while leading in Singapore that Hamilton came to a vital decision about his long-term future.
For 2013 Hamilton left McLaren, the team which had invested heavily in his pre-F1 development, and joined Mercedes. Some were quick to claim it was a decision motivated by money rather than a desire to get into the best available car. His subsequent successes proved them so utterly wrong they moved onto another line of complaint: that Hamilton’s successes were undermined by the superiority of his car.
There is no denying that in the last two season Mercedes has produced cars which are the most dominant F1 has seen for at least a decade. Realistically, Hamilton’s only opponent has been his team mate Nico Rosberg, who he’s been beating since their karting days.
Technical trouble for Hamilton in the first half of last season meant Rosberg led the points standings much of the way. But Hamilton regained the initiative in the championship by grinding out win after win, particularly after a controversial collision between the pair initiated by Rosberg at Spa. Hamilton was already in position to take the title before Rosberg’s car let him down in the season finale.
Hopes that Mercedes’ rivals would catch up last winter weren’t realised, so this year’s championship was another Hamilton-Rosberg showdown. This time Rosberg has had slightly worse reliability, but what really made the difference was Hamilton raising his game in the one area where his team mate had shown him up during 2014: qualifying. Hamilton has started from pole position 11 times so far this year and even when he hasn’t he’s usually still gone on to win – such as in the last three races.
It’s only natural to want to see F1’s top drivers being made to work for their successes but Hamilton can hardly be blamed for the lack of competition he has faced from outside his team. This is often the case in Formula One: it was as true for Hamilton this year as it was for Michael Schumacher in much of 2001-2004, and for Sebastian Vettel in 2011 and much of 2013.
Hamilton has always identified with the achievements of Ayrton Senna, and his latest triumph means he has now equalled his hero’s tally of championship titles as well as race wins. But he knows the potency of Senna’s legacy is in part due to the strength of the competition he raced and beat, whether it was Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet or Nigel Mansell.
This is why we shouldn’t doubt the newly-crownd there-times champion’s sincerity when he talks about wanting to see the opposition get on terms with his team. “I always want to make sure there’s a fight,” he said at the beginning of his title defence. “The more people I get to race [against] the merrier.”
“Bring it on.” Hear, hear.
2015 F1 season
- How a secret Mercedes engine mode helped pressure Vettel into a race-ending puncture
- Over 100 driver penalties issued in record-breaking 2015
- Part-time racer? The facts of Hamilton’s ‘jet-set lifestyle’
- A unique atmosphere: Going to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2015 season review
- IndyCar’s determination to complete every racing lap is an example to F1
- FIA’s sweeping changes vindicate Mercedes’ belief Hamilton was “robbed” of title
- F1’s sprint race rules change won’t end pole position confusion
- Call F1’s championship finale tainted, but not its deserving new champion
- For the sake of the title fight, F1 must get a grip on its track limits problem
167 comments on “Why Hamilton deserves to be a three-times champion”
27th October 2015, 17:12
i hope he gets a 4th
27th October 2015, 22:36
Me too. I just wish he could have snatched those other two that slipped through his fingers at McLaren (2007 and 2012 – 2010 was too close between too many people.)
Diallo Ibrahima (@ibraf1)
28th October 2015, 14:07
Definetely 2007 & 2012,
He could have won easily in 2012 had it not been for McLaren errors in the first half of 2012 and reliability issues while leading races in the second half of 2012
Jack Jeffreys (@jack1501)
29th October 2015, 10:40
If he hadn’t had the failure at Barcelona on the last lap in 2010, he would have won that year’s title…
3rd November 2015, 0:11
It is true that had McLaren not let him down some dismally in 2012 he probably should have won the WDC that year… but then if that had happened, in all likelihood he would probably not have gone to Mercedes and be enjoying the success he has currently. Parallel universes etc :-)
Jay Menon (@jaymenon10)
27th October 2015, 23:32
I’ve already given him next year’s title as well!
If we think that anybody will catch Merc next year, we’re kidding ourselves. Sure Ferrari will get closer, perhaps win a race or two more, but one cant see beyond a Merc win next year. A Merc win means a Hamilton win. Nico Rosberg has shown his worth, he is a good number 2 driver when pitted against a top tier driver. Of course this is considering everything is equal in the Merc garage. Its going to be a tough ask for him to pull out anything more..the guy is already going flat out off he track while his team mate parties with rock stars.
Unless Merc produce a nightmare of car, which is very highly unlikely, Lewis will be 4 times world champion next year.
28th October 2015, 7:41
I think he can win if Ferrari builds a car on pair with Mercedes.
28th October 2015, 7:40
I hope he goes beyond the 4th
28th October 2015, 20:32
What do you mean, “hope”? It’s a guaranteed certainty.
There is only one other driver on the grid who has the same class of equipment as Hamilton, he’s an also-ran, and the rules expressly forbid rivals at other teams from catching up. (Too much of the engine design is written in stone; too little leeway is given for development; testing is essentially nonexistent and homologation prevents you making meaningful changes in-season.)
Mercedes and Hamilton have already won most races next year (I’d say 60%+ to Hamilton specifically, 80%+ to Mercedes as a whole), and unless there are radical rules changes for 2017 that either require significant engine work or reduce the impact of the engines in a major way, they’ve already won the next two years running.
Formula One is in its most predictable and least challenging era ever. The cars bore the drivers; the teams have basically no impact other than the negative; the “races” are a foregone conclusion. It’s a shame, and I only hang around because I have a vested interest in it one day returning to proper racing — I’ve invested a quarter-century into watching this sport near-religiously, but for the last two years I’ve basically given up beyond checking the headlines 2-3 times per month.
27th October 2015, 17:22
Hamilton indeed deserves this title. Yes, it is thanks to a magnificent car underneath him but so have had most champions. Soundly beating Rosberg every single time like Vettel did before him and Schumacher before them. We are truely privilidged to see this legends achieve their legendary status. In ten or twenty years people will no longer say one driver is as good as Senna, they will grade them against the might of Hamilton and Vettel. If Ferrari improve just that little bit we’re in for some very good racing between the two, though I fear we’ll see another walkover in 2016 to promote Hamilton to the last elite group in GP racing, those with four titles.
27th October 2015, 20:50
Isn’t sad that Schumacher gets left behind all the time. He won 7 times – but because of his nature of cheating – nasty moves and all the other unmentionable things he did – has made him a champion that everyone forgets.
Only the statistics will not forget him.
Only honest and none cheating drivers should be remembered – like Ayrton, like Lewis and Sebastian – these are true drivers. I’m sure Lewis will get his 4th one – and then the reins will be taken over by Max Verstappen – unfortunately Carlos Sainz will be another Rossberg or Massa – only a matter of time.
I’ve grown to like Max – just by his statement when asked “Who is your role model?” And instead of Senna, or Alonso or Vettel – he said “My dad” – perfect!!!!!
27th October 2015, 21:21
Schumacher is not ignored. Senna gets talked so much more these days because his death catapulted him to almost-deity status, and because Hamilton can’t shut up about him (and therefore so can’t the press). No one’s been talking about Prost, Fangio, Stewart, Piquet, Brabham, Lauda (in that context) etc., either. Very nonsensical thing what you just posted.
28th October 2015, 9:14
Schumacher still is my childhood hero. Nige too has a special place in my heart.
27th October 2015, 22:15
1) Schumacher is not ignored, he is always mentioned in the top 5 or 10 drivers of all time. Lots of people have him at number one. 2) It is quite frankly hilarious that you mention Senna as a driver that never cheated.
28th October 2015, 20:38
@debaser91 I had a little giggle there too. Either way my top two is Prost/Clark depending on my mood.
5th August 2016, 8:43
What about Nige? He is a great too. Schumacher, Prost, Senna and the like get so much attention. Look at Mansell, Button, Clark, Hunt etc. The single time champs should get as much attention as the 3 4 5 time champs. Not to take anything away from Hamilton, Senna, Schumacher and Prost.
Yeah I also laughed a bit when I saw that part! Senna and track limits sometimes did not along too well. Same with McLaren title showdowns and Suzuka.
27th October 2015, 22:39
Everyone forgets? He’s the most famous racing driver ever. Michael Schumacher means the ultimate racing driver to anyone that doesn’t follow the sport. Not Senna. It’s just like Spielberg for directors, Shakespeare for writers, Einstein for intelligence.
Oh yeah, and Senna was notoriously dirty and dangerous.
27th October 2015, 23:57
Just you forget.
28th October 2015, 0:35
Suzuka 1990; Senna cheats his way to a second title in a very blatant and dangerous manner.
28th October 2015, 2:29
Lest not forget that Prost did the samething the year before also when Senna got the pole in 1990 they moved his car to the dirty side..if you get screwed enough by the politics eventually you will fight back.
28th October 2015, 9:31
that is hardly comparable, starting a race on the other side of the grid, at least you are still in the race – how can you compare that to hitting a car off the track at 150mph to steal a championship??
28th October 2015, 12:09
Nope. Pole place was in the dirty lane. Senna asked to be changed, and they refused. But the pole position was not changed because of him…
28th October 2015, 6:51
He is not forgotten at all. Just look back at the press conference – Hamilton even mentioned that he would not let Vettel get to equal his hero (Schumi) and get to 7!
Just currently we had Hamilton and Vettel both equalling Senna’s race wins and now we have Hamilton, who is a huge admirer of Senna, equalling his heroes Championship tally.
Once they get close to overtaking Prost, it will be mentioned. And if either of them gets close to Schumacher, I am sure it will be mentioned too.
28th October 2015, 6:58
Lol, back then, the only thing i knew if F1 was Ferrari and Schumacher. He is called the “maestro” for a reason. Drivers reaching Senna’s record is big deal indeed, but drivers trying to reach Schumacher, i hope i’m alive long enough to see that day.
28th October 2015, 9:04
It’s a really tall order.
Let’s say a driver starts when he’s 18. Most will need a year or 2 to get in to a top team, so let’s say the best will get to a championship-winning position at 19, and let’s say they continue their career until the age of Schumacher’s first retirement at 35*. This gives them 16 years to win 7 WDC title, requiring them to win 44% of the championships in their career.
Schumacher was a fantastic racer, whose competitive streak bordered on sociopathic. However it also took a unique set of circumstances for him to win 5 WDCs in a row. I think it will be a long time until we see his record matched, let alone beaten.
* I think I’ve calculated this lot right… In fact, looking at Schumacher’s career his first F1 season (91) he only started 6 races, which puts his percentage up to 47%. I am not counting his “comeback”…
Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty)
28th October 2015, 10:58
@drmouse Verstappen could have a chance at that, should things fall his way. He’ll need a good Red Bull from 2017 and Audi/VW to smash the engine out of the park from 2018. He could then clear up in the 2020s as Hamilton and Vettel retire or slow down. Big incentive for VW to buy the team given the PR gains.
For Hamilton, he could beat Vettel next year, and if Mercedes nail the 2017 rules he has a chance at a few more titles in a row before the others catch up enough to rule him out of contention at the last race. Red Bull and McLaren need to recover by 2017 or it’ll be just Mercedes vs. Ferrari once more.
Schumacher was really only lucky in 2000 and 2003, as the other 3 were walkovers. Those years he had to battle Hakkinen, then Raikkonen, Montoya and Ralf (Williams definitely took points off each other, and the BMW was the best engine). It’s comparable to Vettel – 2000/2009 and 5 years, 3 with the best car, 2 not.
28th October 2015, 20:41
@fastiesty This VW story keeps staying alive, it’s nothing more than a very weak rumour to begin with and hardly holds any truth.
Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty)
29th October 2015, 11:05
@xtwl True, I guess it depends on what they want to do to recover from the emissions scandal. F1 and Red Bull going 50:50 on the development sounds like a no-brainer to me, probably cheaper with losing 1 WEC marque. Bernie might be gone by 2018 as well, heh. But RBR are definitely working on something engine-wise.
28th October 2015, 20:36
It’s not sad, it’s just desserts. If Michael didn’t want his wins to be considered meaningless by many, he wouldn’t have been a perpetual cheat. And I say that as somebody who was one of his biggest fans from his very first F1 race, who supported him right up until Jerez 1997, naively accepted his eventual apology, and who finally gave up on him when it was beyond dispute that he was still cheating in Monaco 2006.
For me, he was a talented but deeply and fundamentally flawed driver who does not deserve to be viewed as a champion.
3rd November 2015, 0:20
Schumacher certainly isn’t forgotten by anyone! He is statistically the most accomplished driver in F1 history, and even if the stats do flatter him somewhat, I personally think that he was the most complete driver that I have ever seen. Even in 1994 I believe he was faster than Senna and would have won in a straight fight that year, albeit with a car of questionable legality. It’s flattering to Senna’s that his career ended when it did as I believe that Schumacher was robbed of a true “passing of the torch” period.
28th October 2015, 11:18
Yes, Lewis should win again next year (2016), but after that the formula is changing in 2017, so as we have seen before ie. 2009 and 2014 the baton can change hands to another team. My bet would be it’s picked up by Ferrari!
3rd November 2015, 0:21
LOL.. when have Ferrari EVER emerged as the front-runner following an overhaul of the technical regulations?
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
27th October 2015, 17:31
To be honest, considering the easier ride he’s having at Mercedes, these 2 titles somehow balance out the numbers for him after, for me, his most brilliant days which were at McLaren. The machinery failed him there, pretty much like it had happened with Kimi there aswell and Alonso at Ferrari, but he was, more often than not, brilliant.
We tend to appreciate drivers a lot more when they are struggling and still do great things. Following that train of thought, the Hamilton I saw at McLaren between 2009 and 2012 was a far better driver than 2015. But I’m happy he won the title 3 times, because it’s the recognition, also in the numbers, that he needs.
27th October 2015, 18:25
@fer-no65: The machinery failed Alonso at Ferrari!!!
He appeared consistent there only because Ferrari was bullet proof
Can you mention how many times he retired due to engine failure or gearbox problems?
27th October 2015, 19:25
Well I only now that 1/3 of his wins were inherited because someone else’s car failed. That’s roughly the same amount of races of which Vettel lost the lead due to technical/operational issues of car/team. So it seems like Vettel’s machinery/team failed him a lot too. Especially since he wasn’t inheriting races and Alonso wasn’t losing leads… It’s been more balanced for Hamilton and Raikkonen at least.
27th October 2015, 19:42
Ferrari failed Alonso in the sense that their cars were simply too slow, much like how McLaren failed Raikkonen in every season bar 2005 (in which they failed him in a different way).
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
28th October 2015, 2:19
@malik as @kingshark says, that’s what I’m refering. The car failed him because it wasn’t up to the job, AND they lost a championship they had almost won after a massive strategy error, which is also down (partly of course) down to the team. But mainly, the cars were just lame.
With Kimi, it happened the same, the Ferrari was too dominant and when it wasn’t, they simply were either slow or massively unreliable. I still think Kimi’s best years happened at McLaren, even if he won the championship at Ferrari.
28th October 2015, 8:55
Am sorry but Alonso had over 40 laps to pass Petrov and Rosberg and become the world champion .. I won’t blame the team for that, yes they shouldn’t have concentrate on Webber’s strategy. He started 3rd, panicked at the start and lost some places.
27th October 2015, 17:34
McLaren was by no means slower than the Ferrari in 2010.
27th October 2015, 19:18
Yeah. Red Bull – McLaren – Ferrari was definitely on par.
27th October 2015, 19:29
You can’t be serious. The RB6’s gap to the MP4-25 and the F10 was bigger than the RB7’s to the MP4-26 and the F150 Italia.
In other words, RBR were farther ahead of the pack in 2010 than in 2011. Seb’s car failures meant that gap isn’t reflected on the final standings-but his 10 poles show that.
28th October 2015, 9:16
Are you serious? I mean, are you serious?
27th October 2015, 19:25
Actually, it was slightly slower than the Ferrari. Some days it was the MP4-25, some it was the F10.
But, on average, Ferrari had an advantage-although very slim. The 2010 season review has a table which compares the cars’ performance, but it (the table) is invisible under the new site format. I actually wrote about this in the page for the new format, but it seems it went under the radar. Maybe it can be sorted out, @keithcollantine?
27th October 2015, 19:45
27th October 2015, 21:12
Hmm.. it looks like the old, interactive (now invisible table) has been replaced with a statistical board.
Great job there @keithcollantine ;)
Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty)
28th October 2015, 11:12
@kingshark Interestingly, Patrick O’Brien’s timing analysis (GrandPrixRatings) matches up with McLaren’s data of heading towards a 2 tenth average pace advantage for McLaren over Ferrari. Driver wise, the top 5 are Alonso/Hamilton, Vettel/Kubica/Button 2 tenths slower across the season.
Looking at the retirements, taking them out of the equation gives a Vettel-Hamilton-Alonso, Webber-Button-Massa result, interestingly matching up with the car pace/results, but 1st drivers ahead of 2nd drivers.
Massa was rated as 15th best driver that year, 8 tenths off Alonso – arguably in timing data it took him 5 years to get back to his best form, although Germany 2010 really didn’t help in that regard – it was probably a U-shaped slump rather than / shaped, as he matched Alonso at Bahrain etc.
27th October 2015, 21:19
I think it is fair to say Ferrari and McLaren have had very similar cars pace-wise. We all have to look deep into statistics to find out who was quicker. It was equally close in ’07 and ’08. By the same means I regard McLaren and Red Bull on one level in 2012. The statistics may show one team fractions ahead of the other but the general thinking is they were on the same level. Especially considering variable weather and the fact these numbers show only qualifying pace so they are perfectly-reliable. I don’t want to percept F1 only on raw numbers. It’s too much complex.
27th October 2015, 21:19
*they are not
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)
27th October 2015, 17:51
Hamilton has had near-misses in 2007, 2010 and again in 2012, with a lot of the points lost in those seasons through no real fault of his own. We could be talking about a six-time champion here. Yes, Hamilton has had the best car across the last two seasons but it is not like he delivered results when the car was not up to scratch. Even in what was by far his worst season back in 2011, he delivered three superb victories, with his win at China that year being among his very best. His racing record amongst team mates has simply been exceptional too. Hamilton is without a doubt a great, and now he has the results to prove it. Whether he will go down as a legend of our sport is something we will need to discuss again in many years to come, but it will be interesting to see what records he has when he does leave the sport. His ability simply to win races is incredible. Only in 2013 has his team mate ended the season with more race wins, and Rosberg inherited one of those wins after issues for Hamilton and Vettel.
If we have a battle between Hamilton and Vettel – two undisputed greats of our sport in 2016 over the championship, that alone has me excited.
27th October 2015, 18:10
The thing is, Hamilton probably wouldn’t have gone to Mercedes if he had won the WDC in 2012. He wouldn’t have been frustrated with McLaren and looked for another team. So Rosberg would have had a better shot at the titles of ’14 and ’15. So Hamilton probably wouldn’t have been a six-time champion. But all of this is speculation. ;-)
The fact is that Hamilton is a three-time champion, and a worthy one. Still he has one to beat, and that is our fingerboy in the red car.
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)
28th October 2015, 10:12
@seabass That’s not necessarily the case though. He could well have taken one look at the 2013 car and realised what sort of path it was heading. That, combined with how the 2014 rules meaning that it was going to become the formula for the manufacturer could have swayed what Hamilton would have done, regardless of whether he took the title that year or not. There’s also been a few instances in the past where the reigning champion has moved to another team, such as Schumacher, Alonso and Button.
27th October 2015, 23:09
I’m sorry, but there’s so much misinformation here it’s ridiculous!
I’m sorry, utter rubbish!
Honestly, when will this total nonsense about Hamilton having such poor reliability end? It is a pure and utter MYTH! Of all the world champions EVER in the history of F1, Hamilton has BY FAR the best reliability record of them all. Not only that, but there are only 10 F1 drivers of all time who have every raced in F1 who have a better reliability record than Hamilton – only 10!! And most of those only have a very small number of starts, making Hamilton’s reliability record even better.
As much as everyone goes on about it, it was actually Button who had more mechanical breakdowns and failures from 2010-2012, not Hamilton. Hamilton had more over all retirements, but that was due to accidents and incidents, a large majority being his fault or partly his fault. So saying he lost most of his points for reasons out side his control is nonsense!
You’ve got to be kidding me! Vettel runs wide on very old tyres and Hamilton drives past him on the racing line on new tyres. And that’s his best race. My God!
The simple fact of the matter is he finished no higher in the championship than 4th from 2009 until he got into the most dominant car in F1 in 2014. You might have an argument for 2012, but the rest I’m afraid, is nonsense! A great? I don’t think so!
28th October 2015, 0:37
What’s the matter? Facts getting in the way of your hatred?
28th October 2015, 3:17
Lol… Best reply ever!
28th October 2015, 6:11
Dave you sound like a broken record anyone doesn’t bow down and worship your almighty Hamilton. It’s not hatred – it’s being realistic. He’s fell into his titles. But it’s going to end. Having not read the article above, I’ll exit before reading any more of this tripe.
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)
28th October 2015, 7:54
@nick101 Where do I start?
First of all, your point about Button having more mechanical retirements is simply incorrect. The statistics from this very website show that Hamilton and Button had the same number of mechanical retirements in 2010, Button had one more in 2011, but Hamilton had two more in 2012. More-so, never did I claim that Hamilton had worse reliability than anybody. We all know about the weird gearbox issue in Brazil in 2007, the questionable strategy call at China in 2007, and the endless woeful McLaren pit stops back in 2012. Regarding 2010, I was referring to the incidents at Italy and Singapore, in which Hamilton was very much unlucky on both cases.
As for his Chinese Grand Prix win back in 2011, you have to see why Hamilton had fresher tyres in the first place. He only did one run in qualifying, preserved a set of tyres for the race, ran an aggressive strategy, and became the first person to beat Vettel that season. Tactical masterclass.
He did indeed finish no higher than fourth between 2009 and 2013, but he also finished no lower than fifth. Given some of the cars he had in those years, that’s a pretty darn good feat in itself.
And if three World Championships does not make him a great, what does? Does that mean that Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna are also not great by that logic?
28th October 2015, 9:22
Ha ha ha ha… The simple fact here is that the difference between McLaren and RBR is that McLaren builds a race winning car, RBR builds a championship winning car. Most times McLaren fears better on some tracks and not so good on some tracks.
China 2011, Lewis chased both Button and Vettel down. He caught Vettel at turn 3 and passed, how ironic that all the wet races that season Vettel failed to win any of them, Canada, British, German, and Hungary GP.
28th October 2015, 11:18
Please show some actual data to support your reliability claim. To lighten your load, just table comparisons for 2007-2014. As for your sneering at Hamilton’s Shanghai 2011 drive, the salient fact isn’t even the victory, but the manner in which he put himself in a position to claim it. Unfortunately for you and others inclined to dismiss Hamilton’s achievements or even acknowledge his driving ability, the achievements and his on-track skills are not in as dire need of your approval and recognition as you might feel.
27th October 2015, 18:08
For me, I think there’s no question Hamilton has done the work to be a 3-time champion, and is an exceptionally talented driver. But for everything he’s done on track, I think the most brilliant thing he did was move from McLaren to Mercedes at exactly the right time. I can’t imagine that he simply lucked into the timing of the move. He did what everyone else thought was nuts at the time, and in retrospect, it looks obvious. That’s what genius looks like. Same with Vettel & his move from RB to Ferrari, and I suspect that in the next few years, it’s going to be just as big a move.
That’s only possible for drivers with the reputation to make their own deals, but it still takes a level of bravery and insight to make the jump at the right time. Also luck, to some degree – I don’t think Alonso, for instance, is any less brilliant because McLaren’s in the dumps right now – he was brave, but took a gamble in a situation where the future couldn’t have been as predictable, but his only good options were all blocked. So maybe long-term strategy-wise, Alonso screwed up.
Anyway – I think that that moment – when Hamilton announced his move to Mercedes – I think that for all my complaints that F1’s become too much about what happens off the track, this is an example of where the drama worked in a really interesting way. Hamilton did what he needed to and it paid off in spades. Brilliant, and well-deserved success.
27th October 2015, 18:18
@helava Team moves are so luck-dependent that it’s somewhat asinine to call it genius.
27th October 2015, 21:32
I don’t think they’re entirely luck-dependent. I think if you’ve got a team like Honda coming in, it’s a gamble. On one hand, great history of making extraordinary things, on the other hand, unproven w/ this engine formula. Alonso took a gamble.
Vettel’s move to Ferrari, on the other hand, basically coincided with massive team changes, and the 1st James Allison-from-the-ground-up car, as I understand it. If for instance, you felt like Montezemolo’s philosophy about how to run the Ferrari F1 team was a disaster (I did, personally, at least for the last 7-8 years), and but you trusted in Allison’s proven talent, then timing the move to Ferrari makes a lot of sense.
Similarly, if you look at Merc, and their level of resources & the structural changes they made to the team, etc., it was clear what their intentions were. Hamilton had to make a call if those would pay off. A lot of folks thought (myself included) that Mercedes – Brawn = ???, but he clearly saw enough to make a good decision. What the folks making these choices see vs. what we see are totally different. Hamilton or Vettel aren’t going to make a move without seeing much more of the operation than we’d ever be privy to, clearly. I think saying it’s “luck” dismisses a lot of the decision-making process, and understanding of how teams of people work well (or not) together.
27th October 2015, 23:29
He said he went there to benefit from the new engine regulations which would favor a works team and most notably Mercedes because they are always the best at developing engines.
So he went there for a reason and it panned out. How is that not genius?
I think it would be a pretty save bet I I were to bet that you were saying he did it just for the money, would never win a race again, let alone a championship.
28th October 2015, 9:45
Wow, if that really was his thinking, then big respect to him. Perfect decision making.
28th October 2015, 10:18
Yep @patrickl, Ross Brawn went to his house, made his case, and Lewis listened. No doubt Ross made the point about the power unit as you say, and about the resourcing and infrastructure. Meanwhile Mac still didn’t have a title sponsor. It was a calculated decision, and very smart.
Plus of course it was Hamilton whom Brawn went to, and that wasn’t luck either.
28th October 2015, 10:56
@lockup, I thought it was mostly Lauda who convinced Hamilton, but later it turned out that Brawn also had a great deal to do with it yes.
Although you never know if it will work out how they planned it. I’m sure McHonda also promised Alonso a great engine and for now it doesn’t seem to work out so great.
3rd November 2015, 0:36
Yes, that was Brawn & Lauda convinced him was the direction F1 was heading in.. and to be fair, they couldn’t have been more right. Of course there are no guarantees that your new team will deliver what they are aiming for, but Hamilton would have been well aware of the direction that McLaren were heading in and saw a different and more attractive opportunity developing at Mercedes, who let’s not forget had improved every year since becoming a works team again.
27th October 2015, 20:16
@albrecht If you can define precisely what luck is then your comment will be set in stone.
Assuming you achieve this definition, I’ll humbly defer to your genius. Then, please apply your insight into when the next bit of luck will occur (and of course the lottery numbers to go with it, thank you very much.)
27th October 2015, 21:23
@psynrg Amazing how you managed to write that much and say absolutely nothing. Talent is truly needed for something like that.
29th October 2015, 11:25
HahahaI thought exactly the same thing.
27th October 2015, 18:09
He surely does, he’s one of the greats. I’d love to see a Vettel vs Hamilton battle with comparable machinery next year, and have something like 2008 again. 2012 was close (and great), but that McLaren kept breaking. Here’s hoping for next year.
OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
27th October 2015, 19:22
I know many will disagre with me. But 2008, even when exciting, was not a great battle between Hamilton and Massa. They both kept making mistakes, their teams too. It was even only because both Hamilton and Massa kept dropping the ball so many times.
That’s the difference with 2012, where you could see a pound-by-pound battle between Alonso and Vettel. Many people still consider it the best season battle in the last 2 decades.
27th October 2015, 19:35
I actually agree with you. All 3 major names that year- Hami/Mas/Rai threw so many points out of the window, so many times over the year, that even Kubica (who, BTW drove an excellent year in 2008), had a late, mathematical shot at the WDC. Which, given his car, should have no right to do.
27th October 2015, 21:26
Mistakes are part of the game and they are usually good for the sport. Usually the most highly rated races on this website are the ones when many drivers were having bad days because it creates variables. And 2012 was a great season not only because of Vettel/Alonso battle but also because we have had arguably the most interesting races and super-competitive field. Six teams won, two another came very close to doing it. It had everything.
28th October 2015, 9:59
The 2012 Season started when McLaren having the best car but by the time we got to race 4 everyone caught up but Pit stop screwed the drivers over (Lewis Malaysia, Bahrain, Valencia, Spain) (Button in China) but the RB8 still trying to get around the EBD that was banned, and the car suited Webber more than Vettel, the McLaren disappeared and the battle with Ferrari and RBR continued but Massa was used by a pawn to get Alonso to the top, but as at Spa, McLaren became the best car, after Monza, Adrian Newey designed a new rear wing that gave Vettel the same balance he had with the RB7… Lewis announced that he was leaving and his car started breaking down, in Japan Lewis got no upgrade and knowledge of the upgrade because he was leaving. All the Asian races Singapore, Japan, Indian and Korea favoured RB8 and this was how Vettel clawed back a 39 points deficit while Ferrari didn’t have an answer.
5th August 2016, 9:05
Exactly mate! 98 points for the championship is not much at all even with the old points scoring system. The Ferrari team and LH made mistakes. Many mistakes. Kubica was amazing but he should have had no chance at winning the WDC. What if mechanical problems caused LH to retire in Brazil and Ferrari made pit stop errors? Ferrari strategies nowadays are woeful.What if it happened then? Kubica WDC in 08. I never thought I’d type that sentence ever. 2012 was amazing and with some pitstops which are respectable McLaren vs RBR vs Alonso.Hamilton vs Button vs Vettel vs Alonso. Even Kimi could get a slice of that action. 2012 was great in battles. But that is the past and 2016 looks more and more like Bottleberg bottles the Championship.
27th October 2015, 18:16
Well he did score most points… So much more that he won in october already.
He joined team in 2013 to replace ailing Schumacher when McLaren was faster than McMerc. Deserves fast car then…
Would that car be that fast without lewis? Probably yes, but winning teams tend to include winning drivers.
27th October 2015, 18:47
Off course Hamilton deserves it. And if the Mercedes is one of the top 3 best cars and he drives at the same level next year, he will certainly be a strong contender for the championship next year as well.
27th October 2015, 21:26
I just can’t shake the feeling that Rosberg threw the race to get between Hamilton and Vetel !??
28th October 2015, 0:38
You mean Rosberg would willingly throw away both a race victory and keeping the championship alive?
28th October 2015, 13:27
I doubt it, but it would explain his sour mood after the race if the team had ordered him to play second fiddle to Hamilton.
I don’t consider it likely, though.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
28th October 2015, 17:57
Rosberg is employed to drive as fast as he can on the track, and wherever possible, to win races. I just can’t see him wanting to be second, and there wasn’t any reason why he should want to be second, if Rosberg won this week, which was what was supposed to happen, all it would do is delay the outcome one race. Hamilton was going to win this title regardless of the outcome of this one race, all this race did was give the title to Hamilton earlier than expected.
27th October 2015, 19:41
Talking about car dominance, one must not forget, that even Senna wasn`t driving a lawnmower, winning titles from opponents on 1000 hp cars, MP 4/4 was even more dominant than W-05/06 and 4/5 and other McLaren cars were front runners all the time, so diminishing Lewis wins is a double edges sword, if Lewis is “not worthy chamption”, then any other champion is in the same boat, because I cannot recall someone,whose car was lagging way behind winning a championship, well, maybe Rosberg sr….
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
28th October 2015, 18:13
Years ago, just after the start of the season, as the TV presenters were answering emails the audience had sent in, one of the letters asked about the protocol for national anthems. One of the commentators explained the protocol, and then said something like “You can expect to hear these two national anthems after most of the races this year”. That was in the early 2000s when Michael Schumacher was winning almost every race. At that time he dominated the races. Later the rules changed and he no longer dominated the races, Renault did, and then Red Bull did, and now Mercedes are. Soon another team will dominate races. That is what happens in F1, that is why people watch F1, they want to see the best, and they want to see people trying to beat the best.
In any sport, if a team uses a rule compliant strategy that wins them games, why should they change it? The same goes here: Mercedes, Renault, Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, etc, have all had rule compliant cars that dominated the season. The job of everyone else is to work hard and catch up, that is what F1 is all about, and that is why every car on the grid will be faster next year than they are this year. If next year’s car isn’t faster than this years car, then that team is doing something wrong.
Ian Bond (@ianbond001)
27th October 2015, 19:45
Simply because he’s better than Nico; the rest of the field does not count.
27th October 2015, 19:51
He’s already won a championship without the best car (2008), he has nothing left to prove.
OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
27th October 2015, 20:15
@kingshark 2008 both Ferrari and McLaren were equally strong. if Kovalainen was not in the shot for the championship, it was just for his own debacle.
28th October 2015, 16:38
Kimi and Massa was driving it. We now know that the F2008 could have gone 4 tenths faster.
27th October 2015, 21:03
If someone more competent had been in that Ferrari seat instead of Raikkonen and Massa (say Vettel or Alonso), Ferrari would have wrapped up the WDC with at least a race to spare. Even in the hands of Lewis, the MP4-23 generally looked slower than the F2008; and we can now tell with the benefit of seven years of hindsight, that Lewis is a significantly better driver than Massa
27th October 2015, 23:22
@kingshark Massa was not all-time-greats material, but was more than capable to extract very good results from his Ferrari. The Massa who was shadowed by Alonso was the one post-Hungary crash. So it was obvious he was going to be defeated and in an impressive way. Not taking anything from Alonso, but Massa was not at the top of his game, maybe he never will again.
28th October 2015, 1:25
Fair enough, I still think that if I were a driver (hypothetically) in the 2008 F1 season, and I could pick a car to drive, I’d pick the F2008. It just seemed faster on more weekends, perhaps not by the margin I initially thought, but it still had a slight advantage.
Ian Bond (@ianbond001)
28th October 2015, 14:41
As a driver, no; he definitely deserved it. No complains about his driving skill.
I just wish he were more of a grown up in some situations. Shoving that smug face Rosberg in the first corner was a stupid move; totally unnecessary and risky; had Nico been as aggressive as Lewis, they would have touched and if Nico’s car would have been damaged Lewis would have got a penalty; remember Hungary with Ricciardo.
And the whole array of disrespectful gestures towards his team mate (even if totally deserved by Nico) does not win him any popularity points. He behaves a bit like a bully towards Nico. I wish he were more mature off the track.
Like Seb, or Button, or Alonso, or Massa or Kimi. I don’t remember those being disrespectful to a fellow driver. Disagreeing, yes, but not disrespectful.
So for now i only like our Lewis in the car, with the helmet on and hands on the steering wheel.
27th October 2015, 19:46
I didn’t know there could be people denying it to be honest
28th October 2015, 20:50
@tango You’re new to Formula One? There are still people who believe Schumacher is no legend…
28th October 2015, 20:58
Maybe I’m still new to online forums
27th October 2015, 19:50
I really don’t think that he deserved to win 2007, Raikkonen lost more points because of reliability and made less driving mistakes than either McLaren drivers. If that Ferrari did not fail in Spain and Nurburgring, then Hamilton would not have won regardless of what happened in China and Brazil.
In 2010 however he was probably the best driver that season. He had a slightly weaker car than Ferrari and a significantly weaker car than Red Bull, yet still somehow managed to stay in the hunt until the final race of the season.
27th October 2015, 21:34
It’s hard to say who was the best driver in 2010. It was so close between Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso. Lewis was without doubt the best until summer break but his second half of the year wasn’t that great. He made a rookie error at Monza (which followed wrong set-up decision), made some costly mistakes as well in Korea and Brazil for example. And like I said above I don’t want to seperate McLaren and Ferrari because it was too close too call.
27th October 2015, 20:04
Of course he does, he’s an all-time great. When he moved to Mercedes, the team rallied after him, and they have achieved glory together. Like he did in McLaren, like Vettel did in RBR and is doing Ferrari.
Kinda funny (ok, very funny actually) how the contrary happens to Alonso. He joing a team, chaos ensues, then he leaves through the back door. For all his talent as a driver, it seems disaster follows him. After that happening four times (McLaren and spygate, Renault and crashgate, Ferrari’s fall from grace, and McHonda failure at everything), it’s evident he’s the common factor. And that’s why he’ll never win another title.
OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
27th October 2015, 20:18
Maybe he is not a good teamplayer, no matter what his own PR or the teams’ PR can say. But we will never know as that happens behind closed doors.
Personally, it looks to me he has a little selfish personality (many other drivers too of course) but this kind of arrogance may make difficult for engineers and staff to work with him.
28th October 2015, 8:52
And I bet Seb is the ultimate team player right? Multi 21, Bahrain 2014….
As for the perceived arrogance you’re complaining about. He has been at Mercedes for 3 years and there has been no news anywhere of him having a bad relationship with anyone in the team. Whenever he’s interviewed, he has nothing but praise and admiration for the people he’s working with.
He has now found a team and environment he’s happy and comfortable with. No disrespect to McLaren, but they were way too rigid and ‘corporate’. Both Kimi and Alonso in the past have complained about the demands that were being placed on them due to the large amount of sponsors events they had to do. That’s not the case at Mercedes.
I had the fortunate pleasure of meeting both him and Alonso whilst they were at McLaren and I can assure you, he’s probably one of the most down to earth person you’ll ever meet. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few more drivers, Palmer, Chilton, Herbert.
And I think a £10000 bonus, will make people ignore that supposed ‘arrogance’
28th October 2015, 11:28
Time will tell, but my reading of it is that he is able to maintain enough professionalism not to alienate any of the staff to the point that it interferes with his and the team’s chances to win. One cannot demand more than this and anything better would surely be a bonus. He is looking quite settled in his relationship with his team as he nears the end of a rewarding 9th year of F1 racing.
OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
28th October 2015, 12:39
Kgn11 so you saw “arrogance” and jumped to your keyboard to defend Hamilton… but I was refering to Alonso.
Read before jumping to conclusions.
27th October 2015, 20:19
That Honda designs a PU which is appallingly underpowered and unreliable is now somehow Alonso’s fault…
27th October 2015, 22:28
@kingshark I’m used to your posts not being the best thought out, but I don’t think basic reading was too much to expect. I said “common factor”, not fault. Arguably none of the things I mentioned were his fault (though also arguably 3 of them were at least partially). My point was that he’s always in the wrong place, and nothing indicates that will change, so he’ll never win a championship again. He’s never wanted by teams at their prime, and that won’t change.
28th October 2015, 13:37
It’s strange. I consider Alonso to be at least among the top 3 drivers currently on the grid. I would probably rate him as the best, all things considered. However, you are right, he always seems to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, career wise.
I also dislike him. I can’t say for certain why, but I will never be a fan. That takes nothing away from his driving ability, though. I never liked Schumacher, but no one can doubt that he is one of the best drivers who has ever sat behind the wheel of an F1 car!
27th October 2015, 20:56
Yeah I can’t believe alonso build that rubbish honda engine. He needs to do a better job over the winter when rebuilding that honda engine
27th October 2015, 20:57
Actually Alonso was clearly trying to leave with heartbreak in Renault 2006 too when he was accusing them sabotaging his title campaign. He did announce departure in 2005 and had a full year with them before joining Mclaren. So yes, while he is exceptional driver, who rarely makes mistakes in races, he may well be lacking HR skills.
Then again it is hard to blame a driver being selfish when it is practically part of job description.
27th October 2015, 22:34
Hamilton is selfish (see every move he’s made on Rosberg). Vettel is selfish (see Multi 21). Alonso`s track record is borderline idiotic. It’s what happens when you have Briatore as your mentor.
28th October 2015, 13:40
I think every top driver is selfish: You have to be.
28th October 2015, 14:18
Gentlemen walk through the door second.
27th October 2015, 21:58
Well the ‘common factor’ thing is a bit misleading really. So far Ferrari hasn’t achieved as much with Vettel as they did with Alonso. He’d have given them the 2010 title if they hadn’t messed up in Abu Dhabi. Nando has to win. If he doesn’t he can go a bit crazy, but on the other hand he makes winning so much more likely.
I don’t see too much in him leaving Ferrari. It seems 5 or 6 years is the most any driver stays in a team, apart from DC. He’s just unlucky to be in this era, more than anything, even though he’s part of it.
27th October 2015, 22:30
Yeah, look at all those championships!
3rd November 2015, 0:48
Yes, there is a natural course that is usually run when a driver goes to Ferrari:
1st year – honeymoon, anything we achieve is a bonus
2nd year – Serious business starts. Anything less than race wins and a title challenge is failure
3rd year – Anything less than the title is failure
4th year – Last chance, relationship usually terminated early if it looks like it isn’t going to happen
sometimes the cycle might stretch to 5 years, but that’s basically it.
Jorge Lardone (@jorge-lardone)
28th October 2015, 0:12
27th October 2015, 21:22
Well, he deserves it because he scored the most points in three F1 seasons… it has nothing do to with anything else really.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
27th October 2015, 21:43
Good driving isn’t spectacular driving, so it is easy to overlook how good Lewis is. You see him down the main straight, gear changing up at just under 11,500 rpm, hitting a top speed of about 307 km/h. “Look at these other drivers, they do their gear changes at nearly 12,000 rpm, they drive so much faster … 347 km/h using DRS!!!” “Oh, and who won?” “Well, Hamilton did”.
Hamilton won because his average speed is higher than every other driver, yes, those drivers have higher top straight line speeds, but their average speed is lower than what Hamilton achieves. He is a very conservative driver, using the engine only enough to get what he wants. Many other drivers are far more demanding, using lots of “Revs”, yet they achieve far less.
27th October 2015, 22:58
Cars can be setup like that, to have lower top speeds and be faster in the corners. Like Red Bull back in the day with Vettel.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
28th October 2015, 3:31
So choosing the right set up is decided by whom? One would expect the driver to have some say in the choice of set up, and obviously a driver of Hamilton’s calibre would expect to be in on the decision making process.
As far as I know the FIA don’t mandate any particular setup, so it is the teams’ responsibility to get it right.
As one example, we had one team that chose to set up for rain when the weather forecast was for fine, and they chose to run a weaker engine in preference to a stronger one. I’m not sure why they did that, but the outcome was entirely predictable.
So maybe Hamilton is better with his setup than other drivers are, I can’t see there being something about his setup that other teams can’t emulate, but whatever the reason is, he is winning as a result of it.
28th October 2015, 5:40
What I’m getting at is that you can’t just judge drivers based on “average speed”, as it’s their cars and their downforce that can make the difference there. Rosberg usually has the 2nd highest “average speed”, but isn’t the 2nd best driver around. Alonso also isn’t suddenly such a bad driver now he’s at Mclaren-Honda.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
28th October 2015, 6:21
@david-a What I’m getting at is when Hamilton is a very precise driver who manages the car carefully on the track. I don’t know enough about setting up a car to argue, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he managed the car off the track, and its preparations for the next race carefully as well.
It seems to me setting up the car is a strategic decision, so he has his car set up correctly for that track. Whether it uses more downforce or less downforce than his competitors is irrelevant, what is relevant is he has it set up correctly for his style of driving.
27th October 2015, 22:01
Whether you like him or not he has 3 titles and that demands much respect. He can certainly drive, he can race and he makes the odd mistake. This is a site with a majority of UK F1 fans and still he gets a hard time. I have never been his biggest fan but he deserves respect and applause. Well done LH.
27th October 2015, 22:36
People exaggerate his mistakes. Just like it’s a worldwide story when he sprays a girl on the podium. Even in 2011 he was only actually slower than JB in 3 races and his only clear unforced error was in Singapore. Nobody expects him to go off in the lead though, because in reality his error rate is similar to Seb and Nando’s.
Paul A (@paul-a)
27th October 2015, 22:28
Any driver who gets a third title is good, so my congratulations. However, it was inevitable this year, given what I consider to be the most blatant, rule-assisted dominance I have ever seen, only possible with the engineering and financial expertise of a major carmaker. I also can’t shake the idea that Hamilton, to some extent, has relied on his partner being a gentleman — if he had tried running say Maldonado off the track like last Sunday, he would not be champion today (but most probably in Mexico…)
27th October 2015, 22:45
Only Rosberg would have persevered with that attempt to go round the outside with no overlap. Okay, not sure about Maldonado. Anybody else would have done a cutback, which is what Lewis was ready for with his initial braking. Lewis has benefited from his partner being not very good wheel-to-wheel.
28th October 2015, 12:31
In my opinion Hamilton is very suspect in wheel to wheel action. He’s incapable of going through the corners side by side. He’s either gonna push you off track or make contact. He’s really good at braking late and very fast. But he can’t go through corners like Alonso and Webber or shummi and kimmi of old.
28th October 2015, 16:08
Side by side? Racing drivers aren’t supposed to go through corners side by side. They’re supposed to go through FIRST :) Which is what most of the others have learned to expect from Lewis, unless they have an overlap – in which case he’ll let them through clean as we see race after race, barring the odd aberration like Hungary for which he apologised to Daniel.
28th October 2015, 17:52
They do go side by side from time to time, unless they have speed advantage like the current Mercedes. Even with that amount of advantage Hamilton still managed to make contact when starting down the grid last year.
27th October 2015, 22:34
For me hamilton is your racers racer. The man is just sublime. I don’t believe there is not a vehicle he could not drive faster than anyone else. Vettel on the other hand is your intelligent driver, doesn’t have as much raw pace but man the guy can think on his feet. Over a season when sometimes you need the pace and sometimes you need the intelligence it would even out pretty close. To see these two in the same team in the fastest car would just be epic. If Bernie truly is the puppet master he would make this happen because it would completely turn around the advertising slump.
28th October 2015, 6:58
So, it is like Senna vs Prost? :P
28th October 2015, 13:38
Yeah Hamilton vs Vettel would be epic and it would be akin to putting both in a pressure cooker for a few years:-) But for the fans, it would be unbelievable. It would probably end their friendship though because it’s really impossible to compete at that level and remain friends especially within the same team.
28th October 2015, 18:34
Another Hamilton is natural talent Vs “Alonso/Button/Nico/Vettel” who wins with intelligence.. So cliche’. Hamilton must be the dumbest driver around :/
27th October 2015, 22:56
Meh, I don’t think he is anything special. This year and last year all come down to his car, not him. And it is pretty undeniable when you look at how much that car has dominated the others. Before every race for the past two seasons we all knew that Mercedes was going win, so seriously, you cannot say that he is a ‘great’. If was so spectacular, then his last couple of years at McLaren would have been a lot more successful that they were.
28th October 2015, 0:15
The MP4/4 won all but one race it was in. So Senna and Prost are nothing special? Out of interest do you think Mercedes would pay him so much money if he was nothing special?
28th October 2015, 9:11
Senna was far more impressive prior to joining McLaren.
28th October 2015, 14:38
By no means am I a Hamilton fan but Hamilton won a title before he went to a really dominant team where Senna had not when he joined the dominant McLaren. He has shown some great performances but I suppose you can say he was put straight into a title contending car and never had to race a midfield car throughout a season but that’s not his fault. Bottom line is I do not think anyone should put down any F1 champions they are all fully deserving. Has there ever been an undeserving champion in F1?
28th October 2015, 22:44
Hamilton’s first title came with a pretty dominant team – the 2007 McLaren was mighty and so too with 2008. We can quibble, but at worse, it was equal best with Ferrari.
Hamilton had a chance in 2010, but made some costly mistakes, and the 2012 McLaren was mighty too, but had reliability and team errors.
28th October 2015, 23:32
If you think that the 2008 McLaren was a “dominant team”, I’m not sure what you are smoking. The 2008 McLaren was the weakest car of the last 20 years to win a WDC.
29th October 2015, 1:14
dominant may not have been quite the right word – nothing compared to the current Merc. But 2008 it was co-equal strongest on the grid with the Ferrari – at least when it came to driver/car combo. Raikkonen was nowhere and Massa’s wasn’t/isn’t on the same level as Hamilton. Neither was dominant or outclassed by the other.
The shame is that the 2007 McLaren should have won the WDC for either Hamilton or Alonso. The 2008 McLaren wasn’t as good, but certainly solid and not up against a “dominant” car in the Ferrari.
28th October 2015, 13:58
@irejag Finally someone speaks sense.
28th October 2015, 1:49
I think he’s more than skilful enough to win 3 titles, on the other hand I don’t approve the manner these championships were achieved.
28th October 2015, 11:36
Curious comment and one, I feel, that requires elaboration. There are no such things as perfectly executed seasons in racing, but I would be interested in what championships, especially those won within Hamilton’s career to date, you “approve” and why.
28th October 2015, 5:27
Hands down an all time great. What a debut F1 season that was back in 2007. After that he was always going to be a star
28th October 2015, 7:28
An all time great who will win at least one more WDC, placing him in a very select group indeed. If he can maintain the hunger, there is no reason not to win several more championships in the time remaining to him. The next few seasons look to be contested between Seb and Lewis – two of the sport’s greats. The longer Lewis can remain at the top of his game, the less time he gives Seb (the younger man, remember) to add to his tally. The story of this era will be the contest between Hamilton and Vettel, if Hamilton can win another three titles he will clearly be recognised as the best of his era. Desire will play a large role, but while he has a competitive car his focus is unlikely to diminish. I’m hopeful that the next few seasons will become classics in F1’s history.
28th October 2015, 8:08
A great and very needed article. Hamilton absolutely deserves every victory and every title that he has and you can say the same about Alonso and Vettel. All of them have been consistently great and all three have beaten very strong team mates. There is a reason why top team pays a particular driver £30m every year when it could hire Timo Glock instead.
For sure, the best performances are not always rewarded with the best results and struggles do not always result in defeats. Vettel was probably better this year than he was in 2010 and 2012. Alonso looked (even) stronger in 2012 than he did in 2005. Hamilton’s performance in the 2010 season was more convincing than what he showed in 2008. But F1 has never been different and will never be different as long as it does not become a spec series. So if one cannot appreciate the achievements of Hamilton and Vettel just because they had “dominant” technology, then I wonder how he got here and why he has not left F1 fandom yet.
Excuse me :D (@square-route)
28th October 2015, 8:32
28th October 2015, 9:08
A lot of people mentioned that Hamilton had a near miss in 2007, 2010 and 2012, which I found a very interesting stuff : wasn’t Alonso also had the same near miss as Hamilton ?
28th October 2015, 9:49
One thing I think a lot of people overlook when debating about whether he is an all time great, or even when comparing him to the current crop of top-line drivers, is that Lewis has had a pole and a win in every season he has competed in. With good cars, bad cars, new teams, champion team mates.
How many other drivers through history can claim that same stat?
28th October 2015, 10:36
One thing you have overlooked is that Hamilton is the only driver that has had a chance at getting a pole in each season!! even in the bad seasons (which were still top 4 teams) he had a chance here and there.
28th October 2015, 17:39
Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button had those very same cars in 2009, 2010 and 2011 but alas they claimed exactly 0 pole positions in that time. I think you’d have a pretty strong point if I valued conjecture over actual facts, but alas…
28th October 2015, 17:48
The 2009 McLaren started as a dog of a car that they managed to turn around and make competitive by the season end and that’s something I think Hamilton is often underrated on. They didn’t manage to do the same in 2013 and 2014. they started midfield and ended midfield.
His arrival at Mercedes and their sudden ability to take poles even if they still struggled with tyre wear is also notable.
No one is suggesting he develops aero or gets the spanners out on setup, but all the simulation work in the world doesn’t compare to a driver who has the ability to find the cars ultimate lap time.
And his 2013 Hungarian win wasn’t the car doing it for him, that was entirely down to him.
28th October 2015, 10:32
Vettel won 4 out 5 times he had a chance to win the championship. (09,10,11,12,13) 80%
Senna 3 out of 4 (88,89,90,91) (wont count 94) 75%
Schumacher 7 out of 12 (94,95,97,98,99,00, 01,02,03,04,05,06) 58%
Hamilton has won 3 out of 6. (07,08,10,12,14,15) 50%
Alonso has won 2 out of 5. (05,06,07,10,12) 40%
if we discount seasons of car dominance – ie McLaren 88,89,91 Ferrari 01,02,04, Redbull 11, 13 and Mercedes 2014 and 15
then it would be counted like this:
Senna 1 out of 1 (90) 100% (but cheated)
Vettel 2 out of 3 times (09,10,12,) 67%
Schumacher 4 out of 9 (94,95,97,98,99,00, ,03,05,06) 44%
Alonso 2 out of 5. (05,06,07,10,12) 40%
Hamilton 1 out of 4 (07,08,10,12,) 25%
This is the percentage of seasons the drivers had a chance at winning a championship
Schumacher – 12 out of his 18 full seasons competed (66%)
Hamilton – 6 out of 9 seasons (66%)
Vettel 5 out of 8 seasons (62%)
Senna – 4 out of 10 seasons (40%)
Alonso – 5 out of 15 seasons (33%)
the above graphs say it all…. Hamilton and Shumacher have had the most percentage of seasons in cars that can win a championship, but Hamilton has not capitalized on that.
Hamilton’s last 2 years in the most dominant car perhaps in history the numbers are bringing him artificially back to up the order of great drivers.
in Austen, in the wet he was no rain master, going off track 3 or 4 times when being passed by red bulls, and fell 8 seconds behind rosberg in the wet (who fought back from 4th after Hamilton drove him off the road overtook him in the process). but ofcourse, his great car won him the race in the end. what a poor way to win a championship, he did not look like a great that day that is for sure.
28th October 2015, 13:12
It’s unreasonable to expect Hamilton to win in his rookie season, especially when paired with a double world champion.
You can say Hamilton had a chance to win in 2010 – sure he did, but Red Bull was clearly the better car. And that’s where your statistical analysis fails, it takes no account of the relative strengths of the cars. Red Bull was the clear favourite in 2010, Hamilton did a brilliant job to mount any kind of challenge to Vettel.
29th October 2015, 20:07
The 2010 RB was a monster. We were lucky the drivers crashed from time to time, otherwise we would have had a Mercedes-like borfest.
It’s crazy to see how far Vettel has come (he barely makes any errors) when you compare it to his 2010 season.
28th October 2015, 19:18
You can use statistics to try and make any point you like. For instance lets compare WDC against the WCC
For the 7 years that Schumacher’s cars won constructors championships he won 7 drivers championships 100%
For the 4 years that Vettel’s cars won constructors championships he won 4 drivers championships 100%
For the 2 years that Hamilton’s cars have won constructors championships he has won 3 drivers championships 150%
If you don’t like a driver fair enough, but don’t try to use numbers to make it look impartial. Anyone who watched 2010 and 2012 without bias knows those years Hamilton didn’t fail to capitalise on his machinery and he was also the only driver with a world champion team mate those years. And pas form doesn’t dictate future success. Hamilton having a bad year in say 2011 doesn’t discount him from being an exceptional driver right now. Vettel having a bad year in 2014 doesn’t discount him from being an exceptional driver now.
Each drivers statistics are always going to be unique and yes they do provide some insight into their legendary status, but you could find a bad way of presenting every drivers stats if you were motivated enough to want to discredit them.
28th October 2015, 10:52
If it is a straight fight between Merc and Ferrari next year merc has to priortize hamilton over Rosberg to win title.If both getting same preference will hamper their drivers title chance.Ferrari has a clear no 1.May be they may aware of their next years chances that is why the kept Raikkonen instead of taking Ricardo or Bottas they can match vettel more than raikkonen.Merc also need to impliment these kind of strategy to keep their star drivers title hopes.
28th October 2015, 11:09
I’ll admit to not being a fan, but good luck to him.
Being World Champion takes 2 things. Skill, and I don’t think there are all that many that would deny he has skill and a certain amount of luck when it come to being in the right place at the right time in terms of machinery.
Hamilton has had both and will continue to win if no one delivers competitive machinery as he’s clearly got more skill than Rosberg.
What will truly show whether or not he has class is if there’s one or two other cars that come thru that are as good as or better than the Mercs driven by equally skilled drivers. Then we’ll see if he also has the mind set to improve and keep winning like some of the “greats” that could win when under extreme pressure from others.
But good luck to him, he’s been impressive for the last 2 years (even if I don’t have to like it)
28th October 2015, 11:53
“Equally skilled” is too imprecise a criterion by which to assess any two human beings’ level of proficiency. Comparable machinery is a more realistic starting point for comparisons, especially since most highly skilled drivers seem less and less likely to wind up as team mates going forward. The bits about “not being a fan” and “don’t have to like it” are not really part of the general discussion.
28th October 2015, 11:56
As for a more even playing field, much of his racing with McLaren featured that.
28th October 2015, 11:31
I agree – Hamilton thoroughly deserves to be World Champion. Look at the stats from this year:
fastest laps race wins poles
Lewis Hamilton 6 10 11
Nico Rosberg 4 3 4
Daniel Ricciardo 3 0 0
Kimi Raikkonen 2 0 0
Sebastian Vettel 1 3 1
Hamilton has clearly outperformed Rosberg in every way (even taking into account the single extra car failure that Rosberg has experienced). The stats also show how often Ricciardo goes for a late race charge in the “slow” Red Bull… and how Vettel has comprehensively outperformed Raikkonen.
28th October 2015, 11:32
That stats table looked better when I typed it in…!
28th October 2015, 11:41
I couldn’t agree more with this article. For anyone doubting Hamilton’s class, rather than looking at his performances over the past two seasons, look instead at his performances in sub-standard machinery in previous years – winning races and achieving podiums in cars that did not merit those positions.
For me, it’s performances like that prove that Hamilton is a great; just as similar performances by Vettel (Toro Rosso) and Alonso (Renault 2008; various years at Ferrari) demonstrate their greatness.
28th October 2015, 13:09
I don’t like him.
Though, as much as I’d love to say he’s terrible or in the least mediocre, I can’t. For as much as I can’t stand him I must concede he deserves his titles as he is undeniably one of the better drivers out there. He made the best of the best car and even for someone that cringes whenever he’s on screen he’s had one or two performances that have left me thinking ‘how on earth did he do that?’.
I stand by thinking he’s overrated but saying he doesn’t deserve his titles is ridiculous – of course he does. Simple fact of the matter is you don’t luck into three world titles – even with the best machinery you have to have some degree of skill to close the deal, a fact that he’s evidently proven.
I could be snide and point out that for the last two years the only driver capable of fighting him was Rosberg – a driver he clearly has the measure of so ’14 and ’15 titles were pretty much handed to him… but case remains he still blew Rosberg away. I could say the rules have made it difficult for any other team to close the gap to Mercedes leaving him largely unchallenged… but that’s hardly his fault, he made the best of what he had. Well done to him and all but I hope next year someone else – anyone else, beats him comprehensively but given the car he has I think he’s already got one hand on the ’16 title. So as much as I’d adore saying he’s awful, I can’t. He’s a good driver.
Though I still don’t like him.
28th October 2015, 13:42
@keithcollantine Great article and I just have to mention one thing. “Racing nous”, really? I’m Greek and I had to double-check the definition as I didn’t even know that word is used in English. Remind us never to play scramble with you:-)
28th October 2015, 14:19
Hamilton deserves his titles as does every other champion in history, you cannot fluke a world title. Hamilton is as deserving as the other great 3 times Champions from Brazil…..Nelson Piquet and the other bloke.
28th October 2015, 16:32
Just going off the title of the article, “Why Hamilton deserves to be a three-times champion”, it’s quite simple. He won it. Full stop.
The championship is won on and off the track. Sometimes the winning move is getting into the right position at the right time. Then taking advantage of that.
It’s also the ability to handle the pressures thrown at you, which is why, Alonso, for his abilities in the car, isn’t a 3x WDC or deserves to be yet — he was in a title winning capable car in 2007, could have been in it for 2008 and was even in the cat bird seat in 2010 at the last race.
So Chapeau to Lewis Hamilton.
29th October 2015, 9:01
He is not dead you know… (“De mortui, nil nisi bonum”)
29th October 2015, 20:01
Thanks for this amazing piece @keithcollantine, it’s for these kind of articles I keep coming back to F1Fanatic :)
Especially the conclusion was a pleasure to read, for example
is the kind of statement I always knew in my subconscious, but it’s the first time I’ve come to read it and give it a thought.
Ian Bond (@ianbond001)
29th December 2015, 21:50
Well, pertinent or not, i always like to think of “what ifs”; what if drivers did not retired and did not make stupid mistakes. And still Lewis would have won; albeit by the skin of his teeth:
They finised like this:
-7 +25 Russia; No issues for Nico; Rosberg would have won, Lewis second
+15 Italy; No issues for Nico; he would have been 3rd;I’m Ferrari fan so i don’t think he would have passed Seb
+12 -2 Singapore; No troubles for Lewis; he would have been 4th; Nico 5th.
-7 +7 Austin; No gust of wind …
-2 +15 Nico being a grown-up and let Riciardo go by
377 382 Ooooooooooo …….
+10 -7 Monaco
So yes he deserved it; but was close …
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