Lewis Hamilton is now a four time Formula 1 world champion, which is an incredible achievement, however, is he considered as one of the all-time greats?
Not only has he become a universally-known name for F1 enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike, but according the BBC, he’s number 15 on their list of greatest F1 drivers ever. But still, there is a great divide in opinions on whether or not Lewis Hamilton is a so-called “great” and there are many different reasons for this.
It seems that for every Hamilton supporter, there is an opposer. Some believe people don’t like him because of how he’s different and doesn’t fit the F1 driver mould. His diamond stud earrings, celebrity friends and ventures into making pop music have raised the eyebrows of many conservative, traditional-minded Formula 1 followers.
Additionally, unlike other F1 drivers, his personal affairs have been made very public and some say that it affects his performance. For example, in 2011 Lewis decided to end his professional relationship with his father and this disturbance in his personal life was reflected on the track. With Hamilton having a chaotic amount of, 6 on-track collisions with fellow racer Felipe Massa, all in one season, many criticised him of letting his personal troubles get the better of him.
Another example of him receiving the wrong kind of press is when he got the media’s attention for moving to Monaco for a lower tax rate. It was turned into a miniature scandal, even though a handful of other drivers had previously done the exact same, further highlighting the constant spotlight that Hamilton lives under.
On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton’s achievements cannot go unnoticed and should not be overlooked. Although still relatively young, he’s already achieved more than most F1 drivers have achieved throughout entire careers. For example, there is only one F1 driver in history to have reached 150 starts with more poles than Lewis and that is the legendary Ayrton Senna himself. He also finished 3rd in his debut race, won his 6th race and had an impressive 4 wins in his first season. All of these are close to record-breaking, and these accolades are only bested by a handful of other drivers.
In 2014 he scored a whopping 11 wins in a single season, which has only been beaten by 2 other drivers, Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Also, Hamilton has achieved 117 points finishes out of his 150 starts, giving him a points-finish rate of 78%. This is only matched by one other driver, Manuel Fangio, with 43 out of 52 of his starts earning points. Still, at his young age, it’s hard to ignore his achievements so far considering his career could continue to flourish for another 5 or 10 years.
All in all, Lewis Hamilton is a topic for complex conversation. Some choose to knock him for his bad behaviour, misdemeanour and unprofessionalism. His offences include reckless driving (caught driving 120 mph in France), spraying champagne “disrespectfully” at one of the podium girls and even taking selfies whilst riding a motorbike. On the other hand, his track record is phenomenal and has clearly proven he has natural ability and a great amount of motivation that materialises on the track. His career will probably continue for years to come as well, so even if he’s not considered as one of the greats yet, he’s on the right path to become revered by all.
To become an F1 legend, Hamilton needs to show the public that he’s not just a great driver, but an actual racing artist. He needs to stop appearing in the press as someone who is childish and irresponsible, and instead begin to build a reputation as a professional driver who carries class, discipline and great focus. Only then will the nay-sayers be able to clearly see Lewis Hamilton’s impressive performances and recognise his achievements for all they are worth.