Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher once said: “Records are there to be broken”. The man who succeeded him at Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton – is on the verge of equalling or eclipsing some of the records that at one point appeared out of reach.
Hamilton is currently contracted through the end of 2020, giving him another 31 races – and most likely more, given his ambition to continue – in which he can hunt more records. Motorsport Week crunched the numbers to look at what Hamilton can still achieve, at least before the end of his current deal.
Titles: Schumacher – 7, Hamilton – 5
An obvious one. Hamilton can equal Schumacher’s record of world titles should he add the 2019 and 2020 crowns to his collection. Hamilton currently holds a 62-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen a further seven back, with nine events remaining this season.
It is the largest gap Hamilton has ever held midway through a campaign and it is highly unlikely that he will not become a six-time World Champion comfortably before the season reaches its conclusion in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton’s prospects are likely to be assisted by minimal rule changes for 2020, though an increasingly potent Honda-powered Red Bull team, not to forget Ferrari, should provide a stiffer challenge.
Total Wins: Schumacher – 91, Hamilton – 81
Schumacher surpassed the driver with the highest number of wins in F1 at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix, when his 52nd win vaulted him above four-time champion Alain Prost. A record that had inched upwards was then moved into a different stratosphere as Schumacher finished his career with 40 more wins than any other driver in the history of the championship.
Hamilton is now just 10 wins behind Schumacher and in the hybrid era has a hit rate of over 50%, with his figures this season standing at eight from 12. Claiming this record is certainly highly feasible within his current contract period. Even the improbably low hit rate of 11 from 31 will give Hamilton the record. Should Hamilton maintain the same strike rate of his past 30 races, which included 19 wins, he would reach a century of victories by the end of 2020.
Most Wins in a season: Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel – 13, Hamilton – 11 (current season – 8)
Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel hold the record together at the top with their stunning title-winning seasons in 2004 and 2013 respectively.
The Ferrari F2004 is revered as one of F1’s greatest machines and it helped Schumacher sweep his way to a seventh title. Vettel’s Red Bull RB13 gave him the ability to storm through the second half of the season with nine wins in succession.
Hamilton has had a dominant Mercedes in recent years but has not been able to quite reach the heights of Schumacher or Vettel to match this record. But with eight wins to his name in 2019 is this Hamilton’s best chance? He would have to win five of the remaining nine races to match the record and six to eclipse it. Given his previous form through the second half of the campaign, and Mercedes’ supreme history at events such as Russia, Austin and Abu Dhabi, this is probably as good a time as any.
Most Wins at a single event: Schumacher, 8 (French GP). Hamilton, 7 (Canada & Hungary)
During Schumacher’s road to his 91 victories, he did so across 22 grands prix, a record which Hamilton has already broken, having taken victories at 23 different grands prix.
But no driver in history has won one single event more times than the eight wins Schumacher claimed at the French Grand Prix. Two of his most famous wins came in 2002 and 2004, the first of which came as he had dominated the season with an iron fist, claiming his fifth title on July 21 – the earliest date in the season at which a title has been settled.
In 2004, a famous four-stop pit-stop strategy enabled him to beat Renault’s Fernando Alonso to the victory.
Hamilton has taken seven victories in Canada – where his first of 81-and-counting wins came in 2007 – and matched that in Hungary prior to the summer break.
Both events are contracted on the Formula 1 calendar long into the 2020s, meaning Hamilton has at least one more chance at the respective venues to match Schumacher’s record.
Most Pole Positions in a season: Vettel – 15, Hamilton – 12
Vettel currently leads the way in this category thanks to his efforts during the 2011 season. The Red Bull RB7 proved to be such a weapon in his hands as he romped to an outrageous 15 pole positions from just 19 races. Then team-mate Mark Webber clocked up a further three for the Austrian team with Hamilton taking a solitary pole position at the short-lived Korean Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s best effort came in 2016 in his titanic battle with team-mate Nico Rosberg where he managed to score 12 poles that season.
The reigning five-time World Champion does have to surpass three other world champions to reach Vettel’s record.
Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna are joint third on the list for their efforts, Senna managed 13 pole positions in 1988 and ’89 respectively, Prost equalled that with his run to the title in 1993.
In 1992, Nigel Mansell romped to the title with nine wins in the 16-race season, however, he claimed 14 pole positions in the process, which is an incredible 87.5% average, the best of any driver in F1 history.
Podium Finishes: Schumacher – 155, Hamilton – 144
Another remarkable piece of evidence left from Schumacher’s imprint on F1 is his sheer record of podium appearances. In 308 starts, he was able to secure 155 podiums, marking an incredible average of 50.4% of making the rostrum, a figure that would be higher with his comeback stats removed.
Hamilton is only a mere 11 finishes on the rostrum behind the seven-time World Champion and has the team and car underneath him to certainly clinch this record in 2020.
Podium Finishes in a season: Schumacher – 17, Hamilton – 17
This could be a tougher one to match in spite of the longer calendar playing to Hamilton’s advantage. Schumacher and Hamilton are technically tied on this record, but the emphatic difference between the two is how the German swept the entire 2002 season without missing a race finishing inside the top three.
Hamilton has also managed 17 podium appearances in one season and has done so in three seasons in 2015, 2016 and 2018, more than any other driver. Vettel is also tied on 17 podiums for this record after his efforts in the 2011 season. Hamilton could still break the record this season, having taken 10 podium finishes with nine races remaining – but he has already finished off the rostrum twice.
Total Races finished in the points: Schumacher – 221, Hamilton – 204
It must be remembered that the points system has changed three times in the past 15 years of the championship, so this record is slightly out of kilter and been made slightly easier on Hamilton’s behalf. From 1991 (the year of Schumacher’s debut) through 2002 only the top six scored points, then the top eight, with that extended to the top 10 in 2010. Though such is their time spent towards the sharp end that, if we correct both drivers to the 2010-present system, Schumacher would be on a net 226 (up from 221) and Hamilton 207 (up from 204).
Back, in reality, Hamilton is 17 top 10 finishes away from the record, though he is only third in the list, with Kimi Raikkonen on 213, setting up the prospect of which driver may reach the figure first. Hamilton has scored points at each grand prix since Austria last year while Raikkonen’s task has been made trickier by his switch to Alfa Romeo, but he has still added to his tally at eight of the 12 races so far this year.
Total Laps led: Schumacher – 5,111, Hamilton – 4,326
In amassing 91 race wins in his career it’s no surprise that Schumacher spent a huge chunk of time at the very front of the pack. Schumacher led 5,111 racing laps in his career, almost the equivalent of five entire seasons worth of grands prix.
Hamilton has so far recorded 4,326 leading laps in his career, 785 behind the F1 legend, with 511 racing laps remaining this season, plus – approximately – 1,300 available through 2020. This one should be within reach for Hamilton.
Grand Chelems: Clark – 8, Hamilton – 5
Otherwise known as the ‘Grand Slam’. To secure this record a driver has started from pole position, lead every lap of the race, score the fastest lap of the race and of course, reach the chequered flag first.
An enigmatic farmer and double World Champion by the name of Jim Clark has been the holder of this record since he the 1965 South African Grand Prix. Those who knew Clark spoke of his raw speed, but also his smooth driving style which could look after cars in a time where reliability wasn’t a word anyone would associate with a race car, this allowed him to dominate the opposition in such a manner was and is still to this day something truly special.
Schumacher and Hamilton are tied in second place on this record, however, Hamilton could well have moved into a clear second at the 2019 French Grand Prix having secured the pole position, led every lap and won the race… but it was Vettel on the final lap of the race who swiped the fastest lap on the final lap of the race from Hamilton by a mere 0.024s, preventing the British driver from scoring a sixth career Grand Chelem.
In the modern era varying pit stop strategies and the tendency for the slowest front-runner to bolt on a fresh set of tyres in pursuit of the fastest lap does make a Grand Slam harder to achieve.