Lewis Hamilton: A sporting great

By Tom Kelly

Despite finishing just outside the podium in Mexico City, October 28th will always be a memorable day for both Lewis Hamilton and British Formula 1 fans.

On this day, Hamilton won his fifth drivers’ World Championship and has fulfilled the immense potential he portrayed when he first burst onto the scene in 2007.

On his debut race, the British driver partnered with Fernando Alonso for McLaren and finished third at the Australian Grand Prix, highlighting what was to come from the exciting British youngster. The following season, Hamilton became the youngest-ever driver to win the Formula 1 Championships.

Ian Gordon, a former F1 writer for the News of the World and The Sun, reflects on when Hamilton first stepped on the track all those years ago:

“I think from his first few races it was obvious that Lewis was a bit special.

“I knew right from the off that he would be a world champion and a multiple one at that.”

Hamilton went on to win world titles from 2014 to 2017, and now 2018. What made these title wins even more impressive is that he was in a constant battle with his nemesis, Sebastien Vettel.

The German driver dominated F1 between 2010 and 2013, winning four consecutive world titles with Red Bull. Vettel was also able to snatch Hamilton’s record away of being the youngest ever driver to win a World Championship. To say there was a rivalry between the two would be a massive understatement.

Both Hamilton and Vettel entered the 2018 season with one goal in mind – to win their fifth world title, something that a driver from this generation had yet to do.

“I thought the rivalry with Vettel might spur him on this year and in many ways, it has as Ferrari have had for much of the season the better car,” added Gordon.

Regarding his latest title-winning season, Hamilton told BBC Sport:

“It’s been an incredible season – mentally and physically, for everyone in the team.”

The 2018 season was a record-breaking campaign for Hamilton and there was plenty of pivotal moments which helped guide him towards his World Championship win.

“The defining moment of the season for both Hamilton and Vettel was Vettel crashing out of the lead of the German Grand Prix and Hamilton winning from the back of the field,” says Adam Hay-Nicholls, a F1 columnist for the Metro.

“After that, despite Vettel’s comeback in Belgium, Hamilton was just superior in every way. In particular, his wins in Italy and Singapore, tracks where Ferrari should have been far superior, made sure he wrapped up the title two races early.

“The main thing was that Lewis hardly made any mistakes. Mercedes made a few, but Ferrari made a lot and Vettel really made so many unforced errors it was surprising – for a four-time world champion at least.”

Hamilton himself, identified the Germany, Singapore and Italian Grand Prix as pivotal moments in his title-winning season. In addition to this, fans and journalists alike have applauded his performances in Italy.

Following qualification in Monza, Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel started the race at the front of the grid in their home Grand Prix. However, a first-lap mistake from Vettel allowed Hamilton to slot into second just behind Raikkonen.

Hamilton spent a large proportion of the race relentlessly chasing the Ferrari driver before he eventually passed him to win the race, an impressive tactical performance from the Mercedes man in Monza.

So, what’s next for Hamilton?

The Mercedes driver now joins an elite group of drivers, which include Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, who have won five or more World Championships. However, only Schumacher, who has won seven world titles, stands in Hamilton’s way of becoming the greatest Formula 1 driver of all-time.

Speaking to Overtime, Gordon had this to say regarding Hamilton’s next step:

“I would not be surprised if he moves to Ferrari in 2021 when F1 rules have their radical change.

“The thought of winning a title with three different manufacturers spurs him on and I’m pretty sure he would love to drive for the sport’s most famous marque at some stage.

“I always remember talking to his old man in that very first year and he said that his son would drive for them one day, pointing to the Ferrari garage.”

However, with just Schumacher standing in his way, does Hamilton have what it takes to equal or surpass his record? Hay-Nicholls believe so:

“The short answer is yes but I think Lewis will retire in two years and that will make this a challenge. He can retire with seven but I doubt he will stick around for an eighth.”

Nonetheless, seven titles or not, Hamilton has now cemented himself as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all-time and one of the most highly decorated sportsmen of this generation.

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