Lewis Hamilton - A strong case for GOAT 🐐
When you blitz the next nearest car in qualifying by 1.2 seconds, is there really any argument about where you stand in F1's hall of fame?
At the Styrian Grand Prix a few weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton pulled off a sensational wet qualifying that you could only imagine a certain Michael Schumacher doing. Both drivers who in my view are on parity for Greatest of All Time at the moment are (or were) wet weather masters. Often Lewis has criticism thrown his way for just being himself. Every now and again he may say a bit of an odd take, but we're all human and we all say stupid stuff.
I think a lot of people let this blight the man a little and they're a little disrespectful to just how good he truly is. Sure he's had the best car more often than not throughout his F1 career, but even in the 4 year stretch post-first championship, he came within a podium of winning the 2010 title in a car that well, should not really have been challenging. In fact, had he not got a puncture while running in 2nd place at the Spanish Grand Prix, he would have won the title by a mere 2 points from Sebastian Vettel.
The way he's maximised and harnessed the machinery underneath him is very reminiscent of Schumacher. The way Mercedes works in harmony around him is much like how Ferrari did with Michael. However, in this time he's had two very good team mates and one he certainly had to beat on merit 2 out 3 seasons they went toe to toe for the title.
He then also had the challenge of a resurgent Ferrari in 2017 and 2018, but still dug deep and pulled out a mesmerising run of form in both seasons that saw him crush the spirits of the Scuderia. In fact, I think a large part of Ferrari's woes in modern day is largely due to the crushing dished out by Mercedes and Hamilton. They are besides themselves on how to keep up with such a force.
It has to be said though that if Hamilton now goes on a run of 6 wins, he not only equals, but eclipses Michael Schumacher's win record of 91. As an early teen watching Michael wrap up title after title in the early 2000's it seemed unthinkable that someone would even come close. Many drivers like Alonso and Raikkonen looked like at one point they may go on to dominate the sport for the next decade, but as we all know, it didn't pan out like that.
Both those drivers faired fairly mixed after their first titles. Lewis almost fell into that category too, but such is his tenacity, character and overall decision making when it comes to F1 that he's maintained the mantle of the one to beat. He is in essence the final boss in a 90's SEGA Megadrive fighting game. He is Hiyachi from Tekken 2.
In my view, should he wrap up title number 7 this season and go on to win title number 8 next year, we're looking at the GOAT. No question. In many ways and aspects of the sport we already are. There was a brief crossroads where Sebastian Vettel could have gone down this path, but Lewis' brutal insistence on always being the fastest and best guy out on track saw him curtail that dream for Seb and Ferrari.
Ultimately, next season when the 'Pink Mercedes' becomes the 'Aston Martin Mercedes' and if Seb signs, he could very well start pulling a title or two back in a competitive car. My money however would be on the force of nature that is Lewis Hamilton.
There's so much more you can say about a guy who rarely makes mistakes in his later career. Sure there's a Germany 2019 or Spain 2016 in there, the thing is, his mistakes come around once every year or 2 years. That's insanely consistence.
Although I'd love more diversity in race winners and constructors, it is always a joy to watch Lewis Hamilton in his full flow, whether qualifying or race, we may not see the like for a long time. Though I think there are some super talented drivers coming for his mantle. Whether they'll reach those heights though, is another thing.