Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

How Hamilton won the 2019 drivers’ title and became F1’s second six-times champion

2019 F1 season

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When Lewis Hamilton began the pursuit of his sixth world championship title, it seemed for a short while like he might have a fight on his hands.

Ferrari began testing strongly, and though Mercedes made clear gains after introducing a major aerodynamic upgrade at the second test, there was a widely-held perception the red team were the ‘winter world champions’. It was a surprise, therefore, when they failed to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes at the season opening race in Australia.

Hamilton didn’t win it, however. He beat Valtteri Bottas to pole position but his team mate got to turn one first and pinched the win – and finished 20 seconds up the road from his team mate.

In Bahrain Ferrari swept the front row. Perhaps Melbourne had been outlier, an unrepresentative blip, and they had in fact gained the upper hand. But, in what would become a familiar pattern, the red cars conspired to blow their chance at victory.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019
Bottas began the season on top…
Charles Leclerc was well on the way to a shock win in his second race as a Ferrari driver when a power unit problem struck. Hamilton, who had already fought his way past Sebastian Vettel in a scrap which left the other Ferrari pointing the wrong way, inherited the win. But there was no mistaking the threat from the red team.

Bottas kept Hamilton off pole position at the next three races. In China he didn’t get away well, and Hamilton won, but in Azerbaijan Bottas held on for his second victory of the season.

At this point it was still possible to believe Hamilton could be denied the title this year. Bottas was a consistent threat in qualifying. Ferrari demonstrated their awesome straight-line performance again at Baku, another missed chance to win, after Leclerc trashed his car in qualifying.

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Then Hamilton reeled off four wins in succession. He picked Bottas off at the start in Spain, brushed off an attack from Max Verstappen in Monaco, ground Vettel down into a race-losing error in Canada and simply drove away from the competition in France. Demonstrating his determination to grab every point available, he almost claimed the bonus point for fastest lap on an old set of tyres at Paul Ricard, falling short by just two-hundredths of a second.

Lewis HAmilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019
…but Silverstone was Hamilton’s seventh win from 10 starts
With just over a third of the season gone the chances the title would be won by someone not in a Mercedes looked slim. Ferrari had already missed out on three potential wins, which became four when Verstappen barged past Leclerc to win at the Red Bull Ring.

Bottas, though, was still in touching distance: Third in Austria cut Hamilton’s lead to 31 points. But that gap doubled in the three-race run to the summer break.

The pair fought thrilling at Silverstone, and though the battle was ultimately decided by a Safety Car, Hamilton was on course for another home win before then. The German Grand Prix was a disaster for the team – both drivers went off, Bottas definitively, while Hamilton salvaged two points on a day when he told the team to park his car.

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The worst for Bottas came in Hungary, where an over-aggressive start dropped him into the pack, and Hamilton hunted down Verstappen for win number eight, and a 62-point title lead.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
By the time Ferrari came good, it was too late
After the summer break Ferrari finally hit their stride. And still it was not Vettel, Hamilton’s closest title contender of the last two seasons, who led the charge, but Leclerc. His to-the-limit fight with Hamilton at Monza, and rapturous victory in front of the Tifosi, was a highlight of the season.

The 22-year-old’s points tally at this stage might be even more impressive had Ferrari twigged early enough just what a diamond talent they have unearthed, and not wasted quite so much of his time telling him to stay behind Vettel, or let Vettel pass him or – most shamefully – not complain about their strategy handing his win to Vettel.

But even with a perfect season, it’s doubtful either driver had the machinery to stop Hamilton. Bottas gave him a closer run than he did in either of his previous seasons at Mercedes, and earned himself another year at the team by doing so. But he simply hasn’t been quick enough often enough to keep his team mate from the silverware.

To Bottas’s credit, when he arrived at the Circuit of the Americas for this weekend’s race he said he wouldn’t want to be measured against a weaker team mate than Hamilton, even if it improved his chances of winning the championship. It’s a sentiment which deserves respect, as it’s increasingly clear to all but Hamilton’s most blinkered critics that he is one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “How Hamilton won the 2019 drivers’ title and became F1’s second six-times champion”

  1. He is a mega star, he is so good on the tyres, even back in the day it was a myth but now he is even better. Whilst his pace will keep going down elluva so slight in qually the next few years his race pace will be fine for along time. 2017-2019 has been brillaint for his legacy if it was like 2014-2016 era he would been hated on, it is crazy what he done last year against Vettel. I mean if you rate Hamilton as being better Vettel and alot more do than don’t, i mean how can you not? Then use ya noggin and if Vet was seen as chucking a title away what would Lewis have done in that car he would have had a lot more margin for error with the fact he is a better driver.

    Fairplay to Vettel though his drving skills have waned abit but as a sportsman he is class personified if Ham was getting beat like Vet has been he would not react like Vet does, maybe that is why he has the edge who knows. Vet has looked very defeated after the last 2 battles with Ham, then he gets a new talent in his team you have to feel for him really. But in teammate terms he had it way too easy for too long so i am glad he has a young gun and not Webber and Kimi level drivers.

  2. For me the turning point of the season was Monaco, Hamilton was exhausted after qualifying, he’d put everything into fending off the emergence of ‘Bottas 2.0’ and Bottas seemed visibly shocked and upset that somehow Hamilton had beaten him to pole. After that Hamilton seem to reassert himself and as usual reeled off those mid-season wins that make his rivals doubt any real chance of competing. No really spectacular wins, but some impressive hunting down of cars ahead, Vettel in Canada, Verstappen, Bottas – only Leclerc really managed to field away Hamilton’s charge with some FIA-assisted wild driving. As usual, just another level of consistency, better than Bottas, better than the Ferraris. Any disappointment with how easy the championship eventually was has to be down to them failing to be a match. Congratulations to Lewis on number 6. It was great to see Anthony Hamilton so filled with pride today, well-deserved.

  3. “ it’s increasingly clear to all but Hamilton’s most blinkered critics that he is one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen.”

    One of the most successful. Definitely deserved to be champion this year, but it’s a leap too far for me agree with the above. The only time we’ve had such dominance by one team was in the Schumacher era.

    He was beaten by Button, and even Rosberg beat him 45% of the time. The last few years have been easy as Bottas is just not that fast. Ferrari drop the ball regularly; Red Bull don’t quite have the pace; Alonso had a poor car – It’s only this last year there was any chance of anyone beating Mercedes over a year.

    He is a deserved champion, but I think the stats flatter Hamilton when compared to Senna, Stewart, Clark, Alonso or even Verstappen, Ricciardo and Leclerc.

    I’m not a Hamilton hater. I admire what he has achieved from his beginnings compared to the advantages so many other drivers have had. I also admire his recent stance on environmental and ethical issues. But I can’t bear the sycophantic reporting of much of the UK press that overlooks the impact of his car and team.

    I think its fair to say that Mercedes and Hamilton together are one of the greatest combinations the sport has seen. But even Hamilton recognises the massive part Mercedes the car and the team have played in his success.

    1. One of the most successful. Definitely deserved to be champion this year, but it’s a leap too far for me agree with the above. The only time we’ve had such dominance by one team was in the Schumacher era.

      And for most of the 90s by Williams. If Michael Schumacher didn’t exist – or Williams actually had at least one above-average driver from 1993 onwards – they would’ve easily cruised to all titles from 1992 to 1997.

  4. “How Hamilton won the 2019 drivers’ title and became F1’s second six-times champion”

    He had the best car and a weak team mate who was his main competition…yet again.
    Hopefully one of these years another team (RBR or Red) will have an equal or better car for a full season. He’s had it way too easy for way too long.

    1. Not as weak as the Barrichellos, Fisichellas and Webbers.
      Hamilton’s team mates have all been quality drivers. Alonso, Button, Rosberg, Bottas.
      Lewis if not the best ever, is definitely on the podium of the Greatest ever F1 driver.

      1. There was that one year with Kovalainen :)

      2. Not as weak as the Barrichellos, Fisichellas and Webbers.

        Barrichello was a better driver at age 40 than Bottas will ever be.

  5. Schumacher had the best car for years and won 5 consecutive titles (2000 to 2005), he is a GOAT, but he had the car for it, same is happening with Hamilton. Why should this make him a less worthy champion that Schumacher? History will also remember him as a goat and he truly is. He was able to beat Alonso in his rookie year, got his first title in his second year in F1 and yet people don’t appreciate his efforts.

    1. Schumacher did also get unlimited testing miles, far more than any other driver and number 1 status with team orders. Hamilton hasn’t had that advantage although clearly he’s had a great car. To balance the Schumacher comment it is only fair to say Fangio benefited numerous times from taking his teammates cars in races when his was failing. What we will never know when talking about the greats of the sports is how many were lost so early in the 60s, 70s and 80s that would have gone on to bigger things. Hamilton is right up there but ranking anyone the number one would be hard.

  6. Amzing that the championship started and finished with the same podium Top 3.

  7. it’s increasingly clear to all but Hamilton’s most blinkered critics that he is one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen.

    Well said and all that needs to be said on the matter.

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