Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Mercedes set to win constructors’ title at Imola, Hamilton’s coronation will have to wait

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix stats and facts

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The remarkable thing about Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 career wins falling to Lewis Hamilton is how quickly it went from seeming unapproachable to inevitable.

“Schumacher’s 91 wins record looks safe for now” we wrote back in 2013, the year after his final retirement from the sport. And so it seemed: Among the leading drivers at that time Fernando Alonso had 31 victories and Sebastian Vettel 28.

Hamilton, in his first season as Schumacher’s replacement at Mercedes, was on 21, and added just one more to his tally by the end of the year. Then the V6 hybrid turbo era began and Mercedes produced a succession of devastating cars, which Hamilton has wielded to superb effect.

So much so that, just four years after that article we could confidently write: “Hamilton on course to equal Schumacher’s 91 wins record in 2020”. He had 61 wins then, and his 92nd yesterday means every driver in F1 history now stands behind him in terms of total victories. Dauntingly, he has as many wins as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost combined.

Williams’ 114th win was eight years ago
Another big change is likely to happen in the outright wins table before the end of the year. Mercedes, currently the fourth most successful team ever with 112 victories, are only two away from reaching third-placed Williams, who have only won once in the last 15 years.

Remarkably, despite the championship having been shortened from 22 races to 17 because of the pandemic, Hamilton could still equal the record for most victories in a season if he wins all the remaining rounds. He has won eight times this year compared to the record of 13 set by Schumacher in 2004 (when there were 18 races) and equalled by Sebastian Vettel in 2013 (when there were 19). Hamilton’s highest win tally over a season is 11, which he managed in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

While we’re conjecturing about Hamilton sweeping the remaining races, note that if he takes pole for all the remaining rounds he will have as many pole positions as every other F1 driver who’s started a race this year combined. That’s not impossible, as Mercedes have taken pole for every race this year, and will set new a record if they complete the sweep.

But despite pulling 77 points clear of his team mate Valtteri Bottas (in car number 77), Hamilton cannot clinch the title at the next race. Even if Bottas fails to score and Hamilton bags another win and fastest lap for a maximum haul of 26 points, he will still be one shy of sealing that record-equalling seventh championship.

Estoril was F1’s previous Portuguese home
Mercedes, however, are very likely to clinch the constructors’ trophy again at Imola. They have a 209 point lead over Red Bull, and need to be at least 176 ahead on after the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix to claim the title. So unless Red Bull out-score them by more than 33 points, the title will go to Mercedes on Sunday evening.

The Portuguese Grand Prix made its return to the F1 calendar following a 24-year absence. This equals the record for the longest gap between consecutive F1 races with the same title, which was held by… the Portuguese Grand Prix! It was previously missing from the schedule between 1960, when it was held at Porto, and 1984, when the event returned at Estoril.

Hamilton is the seventh different driver in a row to win this race, following Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese.

The Autodromo do Algarve held its first ever F1 race, and is the 75th different venue to have held one of the 1,030 rounds of the world championship. The next new venue is due to be the Hanoi street circuit when it belatedly holds the first Vietnam Grand Prix some time in the 2021 F1 season.

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    34 comments on “Mercedes set to win constructors’ title at Imola, Hamilton’s coronation will have to wait”

    1. Two dominant opinions in the comments from the 2013 article, ‘Schumacher’s 91 wins record looks safe now’.
      1. Vettel could be the one to break it, and
      2. It will never be done.
      Not even one mention of Lewis possibly being the driver to surpass Michael.

      Having said this, i strongly believe Max will not be the driver to surpass Lewis or even come close. He May even have just one championship to his name or none. Im sure he himself knows its all about being at the right team at the right time.

      That’s how life works, unfortunately (or fortunately) depending on who’s side you are on.

      1. I believe Leclerc has a better chance at winning a championship than Verstappen. Leclerc has won Baku F2 race just 4 days after the passing away of his father. He has won his first race in F1 just hours after a close friend passed away, and the next weekend, he fended off the two fastest cars, and one of them being driven by the best driver on the grid on multiple laps of the most ruthless and intense pressure from a chasing car I have ever seen in watching F1 since 2013. Leclerc needs Ferrari to sort out their issues. Russell as well. I put it between Leclerc and Russell. I just don’t trust Verstappen now after watching these years.

      2. unfortunately (or fortunately) depending on who’s side you are on

        Neither for or against Max eventually surpassing Lewis. However, how to put this, I’m very happy for Hamilton to equal or beat Schumacher’s record, but I don’t think dominance is healthy. Same applies then to any future drivers. I guess the ideal maximum would be around 4 or 5 achieved over a career where there are other drivers winning multiple championships too. But Schumacher raised the bar with Ferrari dominance and his own skill. So that’s where we’re at.

      3. @lums Of course this was just prior to the introduction of the hybrid era and nobody knew at the time Mercedes was about to dominate for the next 7 or 8 seasons. Prior to 2014 LH had 22 wins, so it would have been understandable in 2013 to not really have LH on the wins record radar. In 2013 he won once.

        As to Max, I think the odds of a special driver like him not getting into the right ride at the right time are pretty slim since he’s only 22 and is the most desirable driver on the grid (said it that way because otherwise LH will retire at Mercedes so he’s unavailable). But I do think that the days of a driver like MS (most of his wins via one team) and LH (again most of his wins via one team and indeed all wins powered by Mercedes) are over upon the introduction of the new gen cars and the budget caps.

        I think that Max will have an incredible career too, but I think F1 will not be shaped any longer for these long runs of domination. I think Max will be a multi-WDC winner but I think his titles and his number of race wins will be with at least three teams over his career, and his win total will likely not break LH’s still-climbing record. The new F1 is more about balance amongst the teams and closeness on the track. It will be about driver vs driver racing.

        Max’s WDCs will be harder fought and his future seasons will have a better chance of coming down to the last race or two being the deciders. That said, in a driver vs driver series he may well dominate, but it won’t be from leading out front and controlling the pace from there. Trailing cars are no longer going to be held back in dirty air. He’ll lead via passing skill and the art of defending will be back too, moreso than now since there shouldn’t be drs to make for a percentage of indefensible passes per race. Almost all passes will be defendable.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          27th October 2020, 5:36

          @robbie , you may be right as the regs and car designs are aimed towards closer racing and more unpredictability. But with increasing number of races planned by liberty, up to 25 I think, and longer driver careers, it is possible that some team/driver combo may eventually hit a purple patch and rack up the stats like Mercedes did, albeit not for 7-8 years on the trot. Mercedes is not going to stick around forever, and may possibly pull the plug at the end of next season or if they do not perform well in 2022-23.

          The WCC record is going to remain unbroken for a long long time. The WDCs record appears to be a bit out of reach.
          One thing is for sure, the podiums record is likely to be broken by Max. He reached 40 this weekend, and Lewis reached 161 (121 net difference). Max has a good 13-14 years of his career left, and given his consistency, might surpass it.

          The key to the whole equation would be what LH does with this next contract, and how successfully the ’22 regs can bunch up the field. Only time will tell…

    2. The previous race without either SC or VSC was the Spanish GP more than two months ago. In that race, the driver in third place was the last to finish on the lead lap, so only one less than in this one. The 2011 Spanish GP had the fourth-placed driver as the last one on the lead lap, while the 2018 Austrian GP was the same as this season’s Spanish GP in this regard. Furthermore, as in the 2011 Spanish GP, a driver leading at some point got lapped eventually.

      For two consecutive races, the last three drivers on the chequered flag have been Kevin Magnussen (promoted by default due to his teammate’s 5-second time penalty), Nicholas Latifi, and Daniil Kvyat, respectively.

      The win record was broken in Portugal for the 2nd time as Alain Prost surpassed Sir Jackie Stewart’s 27 wins at Estoril back in 1987.

      Lewis Hamilton has more wins than 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places combined (90).

      He has won on the 28 different circuits in F1, extending a record he already held.

      The largest winning margin this season at 25.592 seconds.

      Hamilton, Bottas, and Max Verstappen shared the podium for the 7th time in 12 races this season, and HAM-BOT-VER for the 6th time this season, the 2nd-most usual finishing order in F1 history, only beaten by HAM-ROS-VET at eight times.

      Pierre Gasly has achieved 63 points after 12 races at AlphaTauri, which is an identical total to what he scored in the first 12 races at Red Bull Racing in 2019.

      Sebastian Vettel finished 10th for a 4th time this season, having never done so in a season before.

      1. BTW, Sunday afternoon rather than evening as far as the race venue is concerned, but Sunday evening in Japan, for example, so evening somewhere in the world.

    3. Mistake Mercedes did in Monza is going to hurt them in showing off both title wins at Imola which is the Ferrari’s backyard.

      1. @Chaitanya Only the WCC is possible to get clinched mathematically in Imola, the WDC, at Istanbul Park at the earliest.

        1. Yes, they will take 7th consecutive constructor title(compared to 6 titles for Ferrari) but will have to wait few weeks for their 7th double title. Given the freeze on development expecting Mercs will raise the bar for dominance even higher next year.

    4. Max is the new Vettel. The chosen one to lead the new generation of top drivers and i hope he lives up to it.

      But i were a betting man, i’d put my money on George Russel (amongst the current young prospects) to surpass Lewis or become the next driver to wear the GOAT crown.

      I hope this comment ages well.

      1. My prediction for Max is that he becomes fed up with Red bull failing to beat Mercedes before a better seat becomes available and ends up in a Ferrari.
        It would be a crying shame, but I have a horrible feeling he will never be able to put a championship together – which would be an awful waste of talent.

        1. I should add that I hope I’m wrong.

    5. How about Raikkonen going from 17th to 6th in one lap? That must some record right? What’s the most positions someone’s made up at the start?

      1. Verstappen sr. did it from 18th to 6th in Malaysia 2002.

    6. I guess the next debate should be between Schumacher and Hamilton, who had it harder to achieve the 91/92? Schumacher’s 5 titles with Ferrari were all good/ great cars, but only 2002 and 2004 were dominant untouchable cars in my opinion. Looking at Hamilton’s Mercedes years, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020 no other team could really compete with them. Does that diminish the achievement? I would say Schumacher’s 91 was harder to achieve relative to Hamilton’s 92 when you consider the performance of their machinery relative to the opposition in each year. But then Schumacher was the Number 1 driver, Hamilton has always had to fight and beat his teammate.

      The other question for debate is, is it likely that Hamilton’s record will ever be beaten? With the intention of the new rules in 2022 to bunch the pack within 1 second or less for the future of F1. If that comes to fruition its pretty unlikely that any driver is going to enjoy the advantage of such superior machinery over a period of 5 or more years like Hamilton and Schumacher did ever again. For another driver to beat the record it’s going to take winning 10+ races per season over a period of 5-10 years. In 2022 if we do have the dream ticket of Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Vettel fighting for the World Title in cars covered by 3 tenths of a second, it’ll be nearly impossible to win 10+ races.

      1. This may sound bias to schumi. But I believe that Lewis has had it easier due to the fact of having 4/5 more races a year more than michael. Plus michael potentially lost the title in 1999 when he broke his leg, retiring from the gp (obvs) and missing the next 6 races not knowing how many of those 7 races he could’ve won and if he could’ve won the title aswell.
        It would be good for the record to stand as that would potentially mean another 5-8 years of the same person winning again.

        1. I remember Schumacher almost lapping the entire field frequently in his Bennetton days. When he didn’t win because he got into a collision with Hill, his team mate would be like 35 seconds behind (Herbert).

          1. True, I didn’t watch back then cause I was too young, started in 1999, but then I watched a bit of those races and the level of benetton and williams compared to the rest was INSANELY high, lapping about 1 sec faster than anyone else.

    7. Hamilton keeps extending his record of consecutive race classifications, extended up to 45 now. It’s interesting note that had he completed just two more sectors in Austria 2018, he would have a streak of 81 (if my maths is correct). Truly remarkable, when second place would be around half of that. Truly a man of consistency – though we can’t deny that his car has been incredibly reliable, even more than his teammate (his teammate has suffered 4 race ending technical failures since Malaysia 2016, whereas Hamilton has suffered just one).

      1. @talcumpowder Exactly that is why Bottas is looking less competitive than Rosberg was. Against Rosberg, Hamilton suffered most of the technical issues. Nowadays it’s mostly Bottas.

        1. Bottas’ car still has been fairly reliable. 4 technical failures in 3.5 years is still good going, so it’s not enough to make up for his gap to Hamilton. Though yes, in 2016 Rosberg was lucky with technical issues, as he was for most of 2014 (though he was unlucky to suffer a technical failure in the double points race).

          1. @talcumpowder This is not (just) about “technical failures”, but this season alone Bottas already has had 3!

            In 2014 Hamilton had many more issues and indeed in points it was somewhat corrected by Rosberg missing out in the double numbers race, but if Hamilton has 6 races with issues and Rosberg only 1. It does make Rosberg look better relative to Hamilton.

            Of course it’s only “on paper”, but that’s the only thing people tend to see. Just look at the people who claim that Hamilton had a poor start in 2016 for the first four races because he was not sharp, not concentrated or whatever. In reality he missed Q3 or quali altogether due to turbo issues twice and was rammed off by Bottas in another.

            Similarly, at the start of 2018 Bottas had “issues” in Australia, Baku, France. While both had a DNF in Austria (and that was the only issue Hamilton had). So yes it did make the gap to Hamilton.

            This season also it doesn’t help with Silverstone, Monza and Eifel against only some dodgy stewards calls for Hamilton. Bottas also explained small issues in Q3 with incorrect tyre pressures and others which meant he wouldn’t get pole.

        2. @f1osaurus – This is just verifiably wrong.

          In their 4 seasons together (HAM – ROS), Hamilton had fewer DNFs than Rosberg in 2013, tied 2014, fewer 2015, and more in 2016. Hamilton did not suffer most of the technical issues. And before you say “Well, technical issues covers more than DNFs,” let me stop you. In 2013 that may have been true. But since then the Mercs have been so dominant that even falling to the back at the start of the race, or issues during qualifying would put them something like 5th or podium by the end, not a DNF.

          Meanwhile, in the nearly 4 seasons of HAM – BOT, Hamilton had less in 2017, less in 2018, less in 2019, and less this year.

          In both instances HAM has had fewer DNFs than his Merc teammate.

          As for that making being why Bottas looks less competitive, that’s a hard sell. Rosberg had 9 DNFs in 4yrs, Bottas has had 6. Rosberg’s average deficit to Hamilton was 31pts, and Bottas’ is about 96.

          1. @hobo No it’s not. If it results in a DNF or not is irrelevant. This is about Mercedes intra team battle.

            Also, your stats are nonsense. This is verifiable true. In 2016 Hamilton had tons of issues during the race while Rosberg had barely any. Plus Hamilton missed way more qualifying sessions while Rosberg barely missed any. Etc etc etc. Or practice sessions.

            Also verifiable true is that since Rosberg left Bottas, has been the one to suffer more issues while Hamilton has hardly any (apart from dumb team calls or bad stewarding)

    8. – Regarding the record for the longest gap between consecutive F1 races with the same title, the Dutch GP will surpass this easily if the race takes place next year. Other than that, of the old races, realistically perhaps only the United States GP West could be revived.

      – Kimi Räikkönen finished outside the points for the 10th time this season; he had the same number of finishes outside the points last year. One more and this will be Kimi’s “worst” season ever.

      – And a prediction: If Hamilton’s record is broken, it will be mostly due to the changed nature of the sport. In 2050, we’ll have 35 races per season with flying cars, or something like that :)

      1. or maybe a feature and sprint race format meaning a 20 race calendar becomes a 40 race one

    9. Αναστάσιος ΜπεκρΉΣ
      26th October 2020, 21:18

      An interesting stat is the order of the podium, Hamilton Bottas Max in that order, is the 2nd with 6 times. Hamilton Rosberg Vettel with 8 times is in 1nd. Read it at F1com.
      But which three is the most invited together at any order?

      1. Together on the podium in random order
        Hamilton Rosberg Vettel 14 times
        Alonso Vettel Webber 13
        Coulthard Häkkinen Schumacher 12
        Bottas Hamilton Vettel 12
        Bottas Hamilton Verstappen 12
        Barichello Coulthard Schumacher 8

        Another record that can be beaten this year. (not predicting a Vettel podium here)

        1. Interesting one, didn’t think of it, it’s indeed quite realistic with a few races missing that the best driver with the 2nd best car and the best car’s drivers end up on the podium in any order!

    10. Both of the tracks that F1 had not previously visited have seen Bottas top all 3 practice sessions but be beaten to pole and victory by Hamilton.

      First Portuguese GP since 1990 not to feature a Williams on the front row. However, one of the Williams cars starts ahead of a Ferrari, which did not happen in 1990.

      Kvyat’s 24th career penalty point – equals Vettel.

      4th circuit at which Hamilton has a 100% record, after Indianapolis, Paul Ricard, and Mugello.

      Istanbul, Magny Cours, and New Delhi are the only tracks Hamilton has raced at but not scored pole. Magny Cours, Valencia, New Delhi, and Yeongam are the only tracks he has raced at but not won.

      5th time this year that Norris has started 8th – in these 5 races he has scored 1 point in total. In every other race, he has finished at least 9th.

      7th race in a row that Kvyat has started 11th, 12th, or 13th – he has not started higher this year.

      In 2020 Perez has finished in each of 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 10th twice, and did not take part in the other 2 races.

      229th consecutive race in which at least 1 Mercedes-powered car has finished in a points-scoring position.

      Hamilton has equalled the combined win total of Prost and Senna.

      First time since Button in China 2013 that McLaren have led 4+ laps in a race.

      Thanks to statsf1, Channel 4, and the official F1 website for some of these.

    11. Mercedes, currently the fourth most successful team ever with 112 victories, are only two away from reaching third-placed Williams, who have only won once in the last 15 years.

      You have no idea how sad this sentence makes me.

    12. I would say the fact you’ve been able to predict hamilton would’ve equalled the win record this year 4 years ago says enough about nowaday’s predictability.

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