At the end of the Turkish Grand Prix, it was Lewis Hamilton who once again put his name on the winner’s record, and this time, for a historic seventh time, equaling Michael Schumacher’s winning record.
The equalizer came a month after the English racer beat Schumacher’s 91 Grand Prix wins to become formula 1’s most successful racer.
The 35 years old came off the poor practices that characterized the qualifier this weekend, which casted doubt on his winning ability, to clinch the Turkey tournament, putting his Grand Prix wins at 94.
“I have to start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys that are here, and all the guys that are back at the factory… I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team and the journey we’ve been on has been monumental.
“I want to say a big thanks to team LH for sticking with all these years, and to my family. We dreamed of this when I was young and this way, way beyond our dreams,” he said after winning.
His record breaking moment also attracted congratulatory reactions around the world.
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “An impressive victory – well done @LewisHamilton! You have made us all proud.”
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand said Hamilton was the “greatest sportsman this country has ever produced – no doubts.”
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, Formular 1 alongside other sports was put on hold, but upon resumption, Hamilton has taken on the sports like his personal game.
The 35 years old has enjoyed a long streak of dominion over the car race, waving the British flag on faces for years. He is arguably, the most successful British sportsman with an attitude outside the sports world. Hamilton lent his voice to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the #EndSARS campaign in Nigeria, a gesture perceived to be spurred by his experience as a Black who grew up in a racially charged country.
Hamilton is F1’s first and only Black world champion in its 70-year history. And in his 14-year career, he has become the most successful driver on the track.
In Turkey, Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate, and the only one with the potential to beat him on the race was lapped by his Hamilton and he finished in 14th.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez’s best in the race could only get him to the second place. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished third and fourth respectively, while Carlos Sainz of McLaren finished fifth.
Reflecting on his journey to greatness, Hamilton said it’s difficult to believe that a boy of his background would come this far.
“I am almost lost for words. We dreamed of this when I was young. It is so important for kids to see this, and don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible. You have got to chase it and never give up,” he said.
Hamilton won his first title in 2008 to fulfill his dream of matching his hero, Ayrton Senna’s record. But then he broke it, and went further to smash other records held by the GP’s greats.
He winning the wet race in Turkey with such decisiveness underscores how much the Englishman has mastered the art of winning and the talent he has become. Racing his way to Schumacher’s seven titles, which was deemed unattainable, sets him up for his own record.
“I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard. Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can together, me and this team,” Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff said.
Mercedes has been dominating F1 for years due to Hamilton’s prodigy and the German company hopes to keep the streak with him on the wheel.
He acknowledged the role of his supporters in his win, as tears ran down his chin upon his incredible feat at the end of the race.
“7x Formula 1 World Champion. Wow. To everyone that has supported me along the way, this is for you. To my incredible family, where do I even start? I am eternally grateful for your unconditional love, sacrifices and support. I wholeheartedly dedicate this to all of you. I hope I have made you proud today,” he said.