On Sunday, with two races left to go in the 2017 Formula One World Championship, Lewis Hamilton became a legend. Ironically, it was a ninth-placed finish – his lowest since 2013 – that afforded him this honor at the Mexican Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old driver became the most successful British driver of all time. He surpassed Jackie Stewart’s three World titles and joined the ranks of Michael Schumacher (7), Juan Manuel Fangio (5), Alain Prost (4) and his great rival Sebastian Vettel (4) in the sport’s exclusive club of four-time World Champions. With the 2017 title, he moved ahead of childhood hero Aryton Senna (3).
Many call him arguably the most gifted man to drive an F1 car – and after a torrid first five years and a lot of controversies, Hamilton has now won three of the last four drivers’ championship titles.
After finishing runner-up to teammate and foe Nico Rosberg in 2016, Lewis Hamilton went into the annual summer break of the 2017 F1 season. This was after the 11th race (in Hungary) and a full 14 points behind Ferrari’s Vettel. Vettel had dominated the first half of the season with four wins to Hamilton’s three – even leading by 25 points after the Monaco Grand Prix.
But everything changed after the break. Lewis Hamilton won five out of the next six races, while Vettel suffered two retirements and horrible luck. By the end of the 17th race at the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton led by a mammoth 58 points. After both drivers clipped each other in the opening lap of Mexico, they fell to the back. Vettel stormed back to the front soon. He needed to win the race at Mexico to keep the championship battle going, given Hamilton’s fighting 9th position. But young Max Verstappen, another star of the 2017 season, won his second of the year instead. Vettel finished fourth behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton a full lap behind the leader. Yet, it was perhaps the happiest weekend of Hamilton’s year, while Vettel was left to rue how it all went south in the last six races.
In the process, while winning his fourth World title, Lewis Hamilton broke quite a few records. Here are some of the numbers:
72 – World record for the maximum number of pole positions, three ahead of Schumacher’s 69
2580 – Career points (a world record, given the change in points’ system after 2010)
5 – Number of teammates or drivers Hamilton has so far had spats with in his career (includes Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, the McLaren team head Rod Dennis, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel)
62 – Number of race victories, second behind Schumacher’s monstrous 91, and ahead of Prost’s third-placed 51
40 – Most wins from pole position, equaled with Schumacher
30 – Percentage of races Hamilton has won out of his 206 starts
206 – Most consecutive number of race starts by a single driver