There’s no denying that Lewis Hamilton is one of the best Formula One drivers of his generation. But the Brit is continually proving throughout 2017 that he also deserves to be in the conversation about the sport’s all-time greats.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver secured pole position for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, marking the 68th time in his career that Hamilton will start a race from P1 — and the fourth time he’ll do so at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. That puts Hamilton level with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher for first on the series’ all-time list.
In addition to tying Schumacher’s record, Hamilton also set a new lap record with his pole lap. The two-time world champion, with his lap time of 1:42.553, blitzed Sebastian Vettel’s previous record time by nearly five seconds.
Hamilton started the 2017 season third on the all-time pole position list, but he tied Ayrton Senna for second when he qualified first for the 65th time in his career at the Canadian Grand Prix, and surpassed him the following round. When Hamilton equaled Senna’s number of pole positions, the late Brazilian driver’s family presented him with one of Senna’s race-worn helmets.
Schumacher, though still alive, hasn’t appeared in public since sustaining brain damage in a 2013 skiing accident, nor has his family. Instead, the Schumachers had Michael’s — and Hamilton’s — former team boss, Ross Brawn, deliver a message to him, via Formula1.com.
“I’m here to deliver a very special message from Corinna Schumacher and the Schumacher family, who want to congratulate you on equalling Michael’s record,” Brawn, who now serves as F1’s managing director of motorsport, told Hamilton. “As they said, Michael always said that records are there to be broken, so they want to send their very special thanks.”
Following the 2015 season, when Hamilton achieved his life’s goal by matching Senna’s three world championships, the “Silver Arrows” driver started to creep into the GOAT debate. Many, though, still pointed to Vettel’s four titles as evidence that he still had a way to go before earning a spot in that conversation.
Considering Hamilton already has won more races than any driver apart from Schumacher, moved level with him in poles and tied Sir Jackie Stewart for the most world championships by a British driver, all before making his 200th Grand Prix start Sunday, we think he’s proven himself worthy.
Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas
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