The 33-year-old Lewis Hamilton who has been breathing rarefied air for a while now, is the equal second most successful driver in history, in terms of titles, drawing level with the great Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio. Suddenly, Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven, which for a while looked impregnable, is within reach.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team have triumphed in every single year since the introduction of F1’s turbo hybrid engines in 2014. But a large part of the reason they have done so this season is because their lead driver has reached new heights. As long as the team remain competitive, the way he has been driving it is hard to see anyone stopping him.
Hamilton’s achievement this year will surely go down as his greatest so far. He has maintained a level of excellence not only way out of reach of his only real rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but at a consistency Hamilton himself has not achieved before.
The scale of the accomplishment becomes clearer when one considers that he has brought the season to a premature close with two races to go despite not having the fastest car the majority of the time.
The measure of a truly great driver is that he can take his equipment to places it has no right to go to, and which others cannot reach. In that, Hamilton has truly proven his mettle this year.
On top of that, it has been a virtually flawless season. It is hard to think of a single serious mistake. And while he has had a couple of off-races, they have not been as noticeable as in the past. He even won on one of those weekends.
Not for nothing, then, did Mercedes technical director James Allison describe Hamilton’s driving this year as “peerless”. Right now, in F1, that is exactly what he is.