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Sir Lewis Hamilton| F1 GOAT?

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
In 2020 Lewis Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher for the record number of F1 wins, and equalled the German for World Championships too - is it time to call the British driver the all-time greatest?

95 wins. That's pretty unbelievable. I clearly remember the Schumacher era and thinking to myself that the German driver will never, ever be surpassed for his records after achieving pretty much legendary status during his first stint in the sport (as a Damon Hill supporter I was no fan of the bloke btw).

Just 14 years after Schumacher ended his Ferrari career, we are likely to see all the German drivers records smashed by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, begging the question - are we seeing the Greatest of All Time in action?

The argument for.

The records speak for themselves. At the time of writing Lewis Hamilton has scored 95 wins, 166 podiums, 98 poles and seven World Championships. At just 36 years of age and clearly hungry for more success, it is highly likely the Brit will collect many more accolades, points, wins and titles before he decides to walk away from Grand Prix racing.

Hamilton has scored his successes for two different teams, and has won races in each of his seasons in the top flight of Formula One, almost taking the World Championship in his very first year in the sport.

Hamilton has passed the records of greats like Fangio, Senna, Schumacher and everyone else in Formula One, and still looks like he has plenty of time left in the top flight to further move the goalposts for future generations.

The argument against.

While the wins keep racking up for Hamilton, it would be fair to say the driver has a significant car advantage over his rivals, and without a strong teammate or much in the way of fierce competition to rival him on a Sunday afternoon (remember Senna had Prost, Mansell, Piquet, Rosberg etc / Schumacher had Hakkinen, Hill, Villeneuve, Alonso) it could be argued many of the wins have erred on the side of being his to lose, rather than his to win.

Now no driver ever wins a World Championship in the worst car in the field, but does having such a potent combination behind him these last few years dilute the end result somewhat, or is it a case of the best car is provided to the best driver?

Discuss (but keep it civil please)

Hamilton footer.jpg
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No matter how much you might dislike him or disagree with his views, he is undisputably the GOAT.

Yes, he’s won in a lot of competitive cars, the same is true for any potential GOAT choice, but he’s also won when other cars in the grid have been faster, he’s shown his pace in poor weather and has maintained his pace for years when a lot of others have lost their edge with age.

Inside the car, he’s the fastest driver ever to have lived.
Number-wise, not Lewis nor Schumi are the GOAT.

I made a chart with some statistics. If you count only world titles, yes, they are... but WCs don't meant that much, because very mediocre drivers had won theirs at some point. I calculated the win and podium ratios compared to started races, because they are the only constant stat on F1 (since even points are inconsistent, because of rules change).

By my stats, He is behind Fangio on both wins/starts and podiums/start, and even Farina had more w/s than Lewis.

Ok... numbers don't tell the whole story, specially on F1, that good cars can make championship victories with much more frequency than good drivers and there were times when champions had more high-grade rivals (Lewis had considerably stronger opponents than Schumi... but I can't say that any of them had the hardest times).

And it's only F1-talk... what about F1 champions that won on another top tier categories? Like Indy, Rally, LeMans, MotoGP and/or whatever? Both Lewis and Schumi only had titles on F1 (as top tier championship).

Personally? I don't even consider F1 the best racing category... I give more kudos for those who won Group B, MotoGP or even WRC... but it's personal.
He was never in a lower tier car, that's a fact. So we don't really know what he could do in a none competitive car... am sure he got some skills, but one thing is sure, this guy is the most lucky sob on the grid... safety cars always at the right time, accidents exactly when he's in trouble at the back... seriously this guy fell into a well of luck at some point of his life.


The James May of Simracing
A rule of thumb I like to use to gauge the dominant car vs dominant driver dilemma is to look at how may 1-2 wins the car has. If there are a lot of them, it's probably the car, unless 1st has a significant lead on 2nd. If the results are mixed, it's probably more the drivers talent and work than him being carried by the car. Since I haven't followed F1 too closely in the past years I've no idea if that would be an argument for or against Hamilton.

BTW I voted 'No' because I don't like Hamilton as a person. To me he's obnoxious and unlikable. Had you asked me the same question a few years back when Schumacher set his records, I'd have voted 'no" as well, because I didn't like him either. To be the GOAT it's not enough to win a lot in one discipline imo. You should also compete and win other disciplines, further the sport somewhat, be a likable (maybe even funny) person, represent motorsport as a whole well and not use it for your own agendas too much.

IMO people like Fangio, Sterling Moss, Jacky Stuart or Ayrton Senna are much better contenders for the title of GOAT, maybe even Jacky Ickx, John Surtees or Jim Clark.
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There is only one man who is undisputedly the greatest of all time in his profession - Michael Jordan.
Every other sport has multiple contenders - Pele - Maradona, Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier, Djokovic - Federer - Nadal.
I really don't have anything against Hamilton, but he is not in the same ballpark as Fangio, Jim Clark, Jacky Stewart, Schumacher and my personal favorite Senna.
There is only one man who is undisputedly the greatest of all time in his profession - Michael Jordan.
Every other sport has multiple contenders - Pele - Maradona, Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier, Djokovic - Federer - Nadal.
I really don't have anything against Hamilton, but he is not in the same ballpark as Fangio, Jim Clark, Jacky Stewart, Schumacher and my personal favorite Senna.

Agree. Michael Jordan always stressed out the importance of team work - a true sportsman.

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships"
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Honestly, Hamiliton will never be GOAT. When my grand kids will ask me who was the greatest back then I will not mention a guy who comes on the radio with "Bono, my tyres are dead" and then puts in the fastest lap.

And perhaps that's why he could be a GOAT contender. Fastest lap with dead tyres seems like pretty good driving to me.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a fan of how he's politicised F1, nor am I a fan of his politics, but as a driver he does stand out from the crowd.

Now while you can argue that he has had the fastest machinery, the truth is that the best drivers almost always tend to end up in the best cars. Also consider that with one exception he has always outperformed his teammates, often by a significant margin.

So does he deserve the Knighthood? Sure IMO. His services to the sport, and his achievements within the sport warrant that.

But is he the GOAT, Hmmm, Perhaps not. I think the GOAT is George Russell, but we just don't know it yet.