With Lewis Hamilton securing his 6th Driver’s World Championship title in 2019, he now sits just 1 away from the all time record of Michael Schumacher. The period of domination shown by Hamilton while at Mercedes is on par with that of Schumacher’s when he was at Ferrari.
Aside from world championships, Hamilton is close to beating many more of Schumacher’s records, including:
- Total Grand Prix wins (MSC – 91, HAM, 84)
- Most wins at a single Grand Prix (MSC – 8, HAM – 7)
- Consecutive seasons with at least one Grand Prix win (MSC – 15, HAM – 13)
- Hat-tricks (MSC – 22, HAM – 15)
- Total podium finishes (MSC – 155, HAM – 151)
There are also records Hamilton has already beaten, including the number of Grands Prix led: Schumacher led 142, while Hamilton has already led 148.
Few predicted that Schumacher’s records would ever be beaten; some were so big at the time they seemed like they’d stay there forever. For example, Schumahcer’s 91 wins is 1 less than the combined total Grand Prix wins of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost combined. However, Schumacher himself predicted it back in 2008 when Lewis was in his first season in the sport.
How Did This Happen?
A lot has changed in Formula 1 since Schumacher was the undisputed king of the sport. For one, that glorious scream made by the V10 engines has long gone, and instead we have the much quieter noise of the hybrid V6s. That’s not to say the new power units are bad, but the sport has had to modernise to keep up with the changing world.
Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula 1 has ushered in major changes aimed at encouraging more fans to watch races; this has been proven successful with rising ticket sales. This increased interest in the sport has also led to bookmakers wanting to get more involved in the sport, with many offering free bets and other promotions to attract customers.
When Schumacher was racing, seasons contained around 15 races, while now there are 21. Cars are more reliable, making it easier to finish a race.
While there is no doubt that Hamilton is one of the most talented Formula 1 drivers of all time, these changes have created an environment where setting these records has become easier.
Devalued Schumacher’s Legacy?
There is absolutely no dilution or devaluing of Schumacher’s legacy occuring because Hamilton is setting new records. In the same way that Schumacher’s records could not be compared to Juan Manuel Fangio’s record 4 World Drivers’ Championships, there’s no direct comparison with Hamilton.
With different cars, different points systems, different rules, and longer seasons, there’s no way to say definitely that one was better than the other. One could even argue that if Schumacher had stayed in Formula 1 for 2007 and 2008, he may have won those titles as the Ferrari cars were competitive.
Instead, the only thing to say for certain is that Fangio, Schumacher, and Hamilton have all been the greatest drivers of their eras.