Why Hamilton’s seventh title was his most dominant yet

2020 Turkish Grand Prix stats and facts

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After Lewis Hamilton clinched his seventh world championship yesterday, Max Verstappen remarked he is now “the greatest driver in Formula 1, in terms of stats anyway.”

In absolute terms, it’s hard to argue with Verstappen. Hamilton already holds the records for most wins (94) and pole positions (97) – expect centuries of both sometime next year, possibly even this season for the latter.

There is now no driver with more world championships than Hamilton. He has drawn level with Michael Schumacher on seven.

How many more titles will Hamilton win? Like Schumacher, he has taken his seventh world championship at the age of 35. Schumacher carried on racing until he was 43, time enough for Hamilton to double his tally, though he remarked yesterday “I don’t think I’ll be here in my forties.”

Obviously, Hamilton has to be considered the greatest driver in absolute terms. But in relative terms, the picture is less clear:

*Excluding drivers with fewer than five world championship race starts

There is no elegant answer to whether those with the highest total or better strike rates were better drivers. Without hiding behind the simplistic cliche that ‘you can’t compare drivers from different eras’, there are fundamental differences which make the figures incompatible, not least the fact that drivers in Juan Manuel Fangio’s era could jump into another car if theirs broke down.

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This debate will rage on but is, frankly, a moot point until Hamilton hangs up his helmet and we see his final scores.

However there is another statistical measure of his success worth considering in the meantime. This was Hamilton’s most dominant season to date. He won the championship earlier in the season by piling up points more quickly than he has ever done before:

Even so, we’ve seen championships decided earlier in the season than this. In 2002 Schumacher won the championship with six out of 17 races – 35% of the season – still to run. In a normal season, given the same winning rate, Hamilton would have wrapped up the title earlier than November, but this year’s season was shortened and started four months late due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why was Hamilton so much more dominant this year? The declining performance of Mercedes’ two closest rivals from last season – Ferrari and, to a lesser extent, Red Bull – is surely the most significant reason.

F1's seven-times champions: Hamilton and Schumacher
F1’s two seven-times champions: Hamilton and Schumacher’s title wins compared
The quality of Valtteri Bottas’s performance as Hamilton’s team mate has also come under scrutiny. That’s inevitable given he came in a lapped 14th on the day Hamilton won the race and the title. Still it bears pointing out that until this year Hamilton’s most dominant title win was achieved in a season when Nico Rosberg was his team mate.

Hamilton scored the 94th win of his career and the 10th of this season. With three races left, he can still improve on his personal best record of wins in a season (11) and equal the all-time record (13). Having started sixth, this was the third win he’s scored after starting outside the top five. Two of those were from sixth (this race and Silverstone 2014), the other 14th (Hockenheim 2018).

Last weekend’s race wasn’t all about Hamilton, of course. We also had the first new driver on pole position since Charles Leclerc at Bahrain last year: Lance Stroll. He is the third Canadian to take pole, joining Jacques Villeneuve and father Gilles.

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More importantly, following AlphaTauri’s triumph at Monza, this was the second time this year that Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull hegemony of recent seasons has been disrupted. The last time a team besides that trio took pole position for a race was at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, where Felipe Massa led a front row lock-out for Williams.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Istanbul Park, 2020
Stroll took a surprise pole position
It was the first pole position for Racing Point and the first time they have led a race. However they had done both in their most recent prior identity, Force India, who led several races and scored their only pole position at Spa in 2009, courtesy of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Despite leading 32 laps – more than half the race – Stroll only came in ninth, his most common finishing position this year. Sergio Perez equalled the best result of his career with second place, which he previously scored at two races in 2012, and took his highest qualifying position with third.

Hamilton and Perez were joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel who, thanks to a last-lap pass on his team mate, ensured his one-year run without a rostrum finish came to an end.

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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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49 comments on “Why Hamilton’s seventh title was his most dominant yet”

  1. The 300th GP for Red Bull Racing in F1.

    DHL served as the title sponsor for a GP for the first time since the 2015 British GP, and coincidently, was also the title sponsor for the previous Turkish GP back in 2011.

    The second time this season that the 10th-placed driver was the last on the lead lap at the chequered flag. The Russian GP is the other one.

    Lewis Hamilton won from 6th on the grid, as he did the previous occasion he started from this position, in the 2014 British GP. He never ran in a podium position until lap 34.

    His 73rd win for Mercedes is a new record for the most wins with a single constructor.

    The last time Sergio Perez finished second (2012 Italian GP), he coincidently finished 2nd to Hamilton on that occasion as well.

    Sebastian Vettel’s 3rd place was Ferrari’s 3rd podium of 2020, surpassing their total from 2014, which was their lowest since 1992. He hadn’t completed a single lap in the top three all season until this race.

    Ferrari’s haul of 27 points is their best result of the season to date.

    For the first time in this season, Max Verstappen finished a race without being on the podium. The previous race he finished lower than 3rd was last season’s Mexican GP a little over twelve months ago.

    Alexander Albon led a lap for the first time in F1.

    McLaren’s 3rd FL of 2020, more than any team other than Mercedes.

    Valtteri Bottas was lapped by Mercedes teammate Hamilton, on his way to winning the title, just as his predecessor Nico Rosberg was at the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP, also 14th.

    Five different drivers led the race at some point, four of which were in the opening twelve laps.

  2. Hamilton’s been in a car that’s locked out the front row 11/14 times. There’d be something wrong if he wasn’t dominating in the Merc as the lead driver that the team is built around. Two times it was raining when they failed to lock out the front row. 11/12 front row lockouts in the dry.

    The Ferrari from 2000-04 locked out the front row 15 times. I certainly put prime Barrichello ahead of Bottas as a driver.

    Hamilton is in the fastest car and drives with no pressure. If it doesn’t go his way he know he gets 15 other opportunities to win. Bottas is his only true competition and he’s not much.

    Verstappen gets 1-2 genuine chances for a win or pole each year so has to make it count when it presents itself. His competition is Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Perez. Talk about pressure.

    1. Copy paste. Have an original thought.

    2. Just forced myself to read the rest of your comment. It’s laughable. Verstappen has literally zero pressure. I agree his opportunities for a win are scant but he was odds on this weekend and bottled it. Can’t handle the pressure see?
      And his competition is Bottas (who you obviously think is much worse than Hamilton and is driving with one hand behind his back as a wing man – how Verstappen can’t beat him if that is the case is beyond me) and a bunch of drivers in much lesser cars. Leclerc, Norris, Sainz, Ric and Perez for a win this year! You are kidding right? Possibly Perez. The fact is Max needed to capitalise when Merc slipped up. Monza: where was he? Turkey: where was he? When the chances are there he needs to take them. He didn’t manage that this year and he should be disappointed with himself.

      1. I agree that while verstappen drove well this year he didn’t capitalize on some of his chances, however the other comment is spot on: hamilton as a top driver in the top car he has needs to dominate, like schumacher had to in the years 2001, 2002, 2004; not doing that is a clear sign you’re not a top driver.

  3. I think his personal domination was more clear in 2019 though. Winning those races in Bahrain, Canada, Hungary, Russia and Mexico in 2019 when he wasn’t driving the fastest car. Plus Silverstone where he outdrove Bottas for the win.

    Maybe the combination was less dominating, because either Ferrari and/or Red Bull had the faster car, but it showed again Hamilton can also win when he did not have the fastest car. While the opposite is also shown in that having the fastest car does not make it an easy win for the drivers that did not win those races. As we hear so often claimed that if only they were driving the fastest car they would always win.

    1. Merc had the quickest car by a margin in 2019. 12 wins to Ferrari’s 6.

      1. No that’s not how that works. Ferrari had the faster car, but their drivers fumbled and dropped most of their wins.

        They won only 3(!) races of the 10 races where they had the fastest car (Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Spa, Monza, Singapore, Russia, Japan, Mexico)

        1. That’s a very selective memory.

          1. nope that’s F1saurus view on the world ;)

      2. I agree Ferrari were fast on the straights and had a Saturday car.
        Mercedes’ car was just so good everywhere, they didn’t have the straight line speed of Ferrari but they were fast enough, it’s a wonder they didn’t win more, Spa and Italy we were definitely lucky (though I enjoyed the latter to no limits)
        I think 2018 is the only season Mercedes had the second fastest car
        This year is just 2019 with more Engine Power

        1. It’s quite widely recognised that Ferrari didn’t have the faster car in 2017 or 2018, it was just easier to find the setup than the Mercedes “diva”.

          1. That was 2017. Mercedes had generally cured the ‘diva’ tendencies for 2018.

            It’s actually widely recognised that Ferrari had the better package at more races in 2018.

            Hamilton still won the title with 2 to spare.

          2. I’d say 2018 was extremely competitive when you look at car performance, don’t forget vettel drove terribly, so just saying the number of wins isn’t enough.

            2017 definitely mercedes had the better car and I don’t even know how some people can argue 2019 ferrari was competitive, it rarely was and they threw away chances with less reliability and mistakes too, it was only good on a straight line for most season.

  4. @stijner Fantastic stats, cheers. Love the one about leading laps for the first time.

  5. There’s one stat I’ve been keeping an eye on, which is “Will Mercedes become the first team ever to claim every pole position across an entire season?”

    Thanks to Lance Stroll and whoever decided to resurface Istanbul Park, the answer is no!

    It’s been a remarkable season of domination and excellence but a little piece of me is glad that record is still there for the taking

    1. Yes, it’s a good thing there’s surprises such as this, monza or silverstone.

  6. Hamilton equals Vettel in recording four consecutive drivers’ title wins. Should he win next year he will equal Schumacher’s all time record of five in a row – whilst of course setting a new benchmark for total drivers’ title wins.

    George Russell equals Max Chilton’s record for a British driver of 35 Grands Prix entered without scoring a point.

    Hamilton extends his own record for longest timespan covering first and last Championship titles (13 seasons). Should either Kimi or Alonso win a further title they would of course set a new record themselves.

    With three races remaining, a number of other records or benchmarks remain possible:
    100 poles (would require Hamilton to take pole at all three races)
    50 consecutive points finishes (would require Hamilton to finish in the points in all three races)
    1,000 consecutive points scored (requires Hamilton to score 27 more points in consecutive races)
    Most laps led – record currently held by Schumacher at 5,111 (requires Hamilton to lead 68 of the 169 laps remaining this season)

    Finally, if Mercedes win the next two races they will have won exactly half of all races they have entered since their return to F1 as Mercedes GP in 2010. They already exceed this mark if you include their original participation in the 1954 & 1955 seasons, and of course comfortably exceed this mark if you take only the hybrid era into consideration.

    1. This stat is impressive, I am one of those who are annoyed by mercedes dominance, but the fact they were already at such a high level in the 50s probably says they’re particularly good at developing cars, can’t be a coincidence they’re so strong every time they come (give or take a few years since their return).

  7. Breathe man !

    I wanted to know what the record for number of spin during a race !

  8. Three drivers from current grid took part of last, 2011 Turkish GP. Those three finished in podium, guess experience counts :)

    1. Wow. That’s a great stat! I was thinking Kimi and Romain my have been there on the 2011 grid, but yeah, they weren’t!

    2. True, that’s a good stat indeed.

  9. This was the first race without a Ferrari, McLaren or Williams in the top 10 on the grid since the 1967 South African GP.

    1. Inconceivable!

    2. Wow, that’s insane it never happened in recent times!

  10. We also had the first new driver on pole position since Charles Leclerc at Bahrain last year: Lance Stroll.

    Verstappen’s first pole (Hungary 2019) was more recent than Leclerc’s first.

    Both driver and team scored their first pole positions – first time this has happened since Vettel for Toro Rosso in Italy 2008.

    First team to score their maiden pole since Force India (the predecessors of Racing Point) in Belgium 2009.

    Still no Istanbul pole for Hamilton, leaving 4 tracks where he raced but not scored pole (the others being Imola, Magny Cours, and New Delhi).

    Second time (after Britain 2008) where Hamilton has won the race by a large margin and his main championship rival has spun multiple times but still finished.

    Second time (after Mexico 2015) where Perez has been passed for a podium position in the closing laps but regained the position on the last lap.

    Only 4 drivers on the grid have a colour other than red, white or blue in their national flag. 3 of those drivers (Perez, Vettel, Sainz) finished in the top 5 (the other being Giovinazzi who DNF’d).

    Mercedes’ 200th win as an engine supplier.

    Mercedes’ 114th win as a constructor – equals Williams.

    Vettel keeps alive his Istanbul record of either starting in the top 3 or outside the top 10, and of either finishing on the podium or not scoring.

    Stroll has led more laps in 2020 than any other non-Mercedes driver.

    Hamilton’s 73rd win with Mercedes – a new record.

    Perez completed all bar 4 laps in 2nd place.

    First time this season that Vettel has completed at least 1 lap in a top 3 place.

    First time this season that Verstappen has finished but not on the podium.

    First time since Austria that a driver has not finished the race but been classified.

    12 different drivers have finished on the podium so far in 2020 – the most since 2012 (13).

    No Mercedes on the front row for the first time since Brazil 2019.

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

    1. One other interesting one is that Stroll only has one less pole than Verstappen! You would have thought Verstappen would have more by now. Stroll being known as a weak qualifier makes Verstappen look incredibly weak somehow based on statistics. Especially given Verstappen has been in a strong car for so many years.

      1. So the lesson here is statistics seldom show the truth. Especially if they are made up ;)

  11. In my opinion, “the car” is a more succinct answer to the headline.

    On Sunday, Lewis had a bad start and was stuck behind Vettel (making several mistakes) until the track dried up a bit. DRS was then enabled and, once again, the dominance that car has over everything else on the grid shone through.

    Put Max, Vettel, Riccardo or Leclerc in that car and they would have done the same job.

    It’s sad but a lot of people think this. F1 has just always been about the car.

    Let’s see what Lewis can do in a twitchy Red Bull or sluggish Ferrari.

    1. @joshgeake Verstappen and Albon had the fastest car and what did they do with it?

      1. They struggled in the drying conditions and weren’t as patient as those around them.

        I don’t really see the relevance of your point.

        1. @joshgeake I think what @@f1osaurus is pointing out is that you have said that if you had put Max in a slower car he could have won a race which he failed to do in the quickest car available on the day. It’s an argument that doesn’t hold water.

          1. But the Mercedes was the faster car on the day, the lap charts and fastest lap data show us this.

            What makes you think the red bull was faster on Sunday?

        2. Verstappen was 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton when he lost control of his car with a spin thereby flat spotting his tyres.
          He made 2 extra stops than Hamilton of roughly 42 seconds yet finished 44 seconds behind Hamilton, which is almost the time penalty of his pit stops plus running in traffic for the better part of the latter sections of the race.
          There was pace aplenty in that Redbull.

    2. Or let’s see what Bottas can do in a Mercedes. Funny that Hamilton always has the fastest car but his teammates don’t.

    3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      17th November 2020, 11:23

      @joshgeake I don’t think you watched the same race!
      1. Lewis got a great start and went from 6th to 3rd by the first corner.
      2. His car was extremely twitchy which is why he went from 3rd to 6th shortly afterwards. Every commentator and analyst across the weekend said Merc took 6 or so laps to get the tires up to temp. The car was slow as heck until that happened and extremely tricky to drive (Bottas 6 spins and no he’s not that bad!)
      3. Despite the above he never spun, never faced the opposite direction, just went off track and came back on.
      4. Max screwed up behind Perez, spun at high speed, flatspotted his tires and had to pit again a few laps after pitting. He spun again later on and wouldn’t adapt his driving style to what the car could do towards the end of the race finishing 1.4 seconds ahead of the other Redbull. Daniel ate his tires and had to pit meanwhile his team mate one stopped like Lewis and Perez. Vettel was slower than Leclerc and but for a rash last lap move by Leclerc, would have been beaten by his team mate. Explain again how they would have won in the Merc?

      1. Yes, makes sense, I think you can make more of an argument that stroll or perez would’ve won than others.

  12. Lando Norris’ fastest lap ensured that Lewis Hamilton has won this season”s DHL Fastest Lap Award outright.

    Fastest Laps:
    Hamilton – 6
    Bottas – 2
    Verstappen – 2
    Norris – 2
    Ricciardo – 1
    Sainz Jr – 1

    Whilst it is the 5th time he has collected this award, he still has some way to catch Michael Schumacher’s record of 77 fastest laps (Hamilton has 53). Given the introduction of the bonus point for Fastest Lap, it’s increasingly likely that this is one of the few records Hamilton will not break (not that he’ll care!). That is, unless he continues for another 4-5 years with Mercedes operating at a current or similar level of dominance.

    1. Even before the introduction of the bonus point, the Pirelli era has ensured that drivers don’t go for the fastest lap. So many races are simply about maintaining tyre life and getting to the end of the race (especially at the end of the race when fuel loads are least).

      I think it was either Sochi/ Portimao this year where Gasly at the end of the race was thanking his team profusely for just ‘letting him try’ for a fastest lap.

      1. Mercedes are usually interested in engine conservation than going for fastest lap.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      17th November 2020, 11:27

      I don’t know, 25 fastest laps to go to beat that record. 23 race season next year and presumably going forward. Let’s say he does another three years and scores fastest lap for a third of the races each season. That would be close.

  13. When Lewis started blubbering after the flag, i , i shed a tear, well done young fella,

  14. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    17th November 2020, 11:42

    Lewis’s race has been described as on of his best ever out of 264 and some epics. One of his best ever. Journo’s and pundits call it a masterclass. Everyone says he won his 7th WDC in style proving it’s not just the car. He lapped his team mate and finished 30 seconds ahead of 2nd in the most bizarre and tricky races in modern history. All his rivals made major errors except Vettel who was slower than his team mate. @joshgeake “iTs tHe cAr!”
    Delusional!

    1. Hamilton has truly showed his class this year… especially at the unfamiliar circuits. At Mugello he was the only driver to not commit a track limit infraction (Bottas & Verstappen only had one a piece… everyone else had more). Again at Portimao, every other driver got dinged more than once but Lewis only overstepped one time. His precision in Turkey kept him pointing the right way when most others looped it when their back end stepped out… he’s just been metronomic. He’s been second to none in tire management as well. Whenever he’s in clear air, his lap times steadily improve. Just qualy-style lap after lap. I can’t spot a single chink in his armour. He’s unquestionably the most complete driver on the grid. Has been for some time now.

  15. Next up: What Bottas, Barrichello, Irvine and Fisichella have one thing in common.

    1. That they had top drivers as team mate, couldn’t beat them, and were seen as promising drivers before meeting those.

  16. Racing Point was the 38th team to take a pole. The last 6 look like this

    Mercedes 2012 (Rosberg)
    Force India 2009 (Fisichella)
    Red Bull 2009 (Vettel)
    Brawn 2009 (Button)
    Toro Rosso 2008 (Vettel)
    BMW Sauber 2008 (Kubica)

  17. Hamilton overtakes Juan Fangio on the GOAT chart!
    Driver Debut Score T-Factor B-mark N-WDC WDC
    Lewis Hamilton 2007 0.834 1.200 1.001 5.006 7.000
    Juan Manuel Fangio 1950 1.000 1.000 1.000 5.000 5.000
    Alberto Ascari 1950 0.859 1.000 0.859 4.293 2.000
    Michael Schumacher 1991 0.694 1.150 0.798 3.989 7.000
    Jim Clark 1960 0.737 1.000 0.737 3.684 2.000
    Sebastian Vettel 2007 0.611 1.200 0.733 3.664 4.000
    Ayrton Senna 1984 0.629 1.150 0.723 3.617 3.000
    Alain Prost 1980 0.627 1.100 0.689 3.446 4.000
    Jackie Stewart 1965 0.583 1.000 0.583 2.917 3.000
    Giuseppe Nino Farina 1950 0.578 1.000 0.578 2.892 1.000
    Fernando Alonso 2001 0.386 1.200 0.464 2.319 2.000
    Niki Lauda 1971 0.396 1.100 0.435 2.177 3.000
    Nelson Piquet 1978 0.367 1.100 0.403 2.017 3.000
    Jack Brabham 1955 0.331 1.000 0.331 1.657 3.000
    Score = sum of rate for wins, podiums, points finish, fastest laps and poles weighted appropriately and normalized to Juan Fangio. T-factor = time (period) factor. B-mark = final benchmark score. N-WDC = number of world driver’s championships normalized to Juan Fangio. WDC = actual number of driver’s championships achieved by driver.
    Note: This is not an all-time list as not all WDC, GP and pole winners have been included. But it is not likely that any WDC omitted will upset the top ten (Giuseppe Farina upwards) as it stands.

    Last year I shared a first iteration of a GOAT chart normalized to Juan Fangio. The normalization exercise asks: What if Hamilton’s (or Vettel’s) achievements were compressed into Fangio’s 53-race career? How many WDCs would he have gotten?
    I have included the same set of statistics, but weighted slightly differently: wins (weighted 35%), poles (weighted 10%), fastest laps (weighted 10%), podiums (weighted 25%) and finishing within the points (weighted 20%). I have also included a time-equalization factor to reflect period competition when the driver made his debut (the factor goes up 5% every 15 years).
    On the prototype last year, Hamilton was third in the chart after only Fangio and Alberto Ascari. This year, with his record-equaling seventh championship, Hamilton has overtaken Fangio. But the new protocol has also led to big climbs for Alonso, Vettel and Schumacher.
    As to the oft stated domination of Merc/Ham this year, I think it is more of a Hamilton domination presaged by the deliberate grand chelem he composed in Abu Dhabi last year! Let’s see what message he leaves for his competitors at the end of this year!!

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