The inevitable has happened. Lewis Hamilton now has the most wins of any driver in Formula 1 (F1) history.
On Oct. 25, Hamilton earned his 92nd F1 win in Portugal, surpassing the previous record of 91 wins set by the prodigal Michael Schumacher back in 2006.
Like just about every other race this season, Hamilton comfortably led the pack for most of the grand prix, beating his teammate Valtteri Bottas to first place by over 25 seconds.
“I could only ever dreamed of being where I am today,” Hamilton said after the race. “It’s going to take some time to fully sink in. I can’t find the words at the moment.”
His F1 career began in 2007, driving for McLaren. He quickly impressed in his debut in Melbourne, placing third. His first win came in Canada, only five races later. Just over a year after his inaugural win, he earned his first driver’s championship in his second season. That’s right. His second season in F1. At the age of 23. He went on to win a smattering of races during his next few years with McLaren before hopping ship to Mercedes in 2013.
Hamilton’s career skyrocketed upward in 2014, when F1 switched from V8 engines to turbocharged V6 hybrid ones. His team were the front-runners for the new engine layout; Mercedes’ V6s were more powerful and reliable than any other engine in the sport. That, combined with the stellarly aerodynamic W05 chassis, meant that Hamilton and his teammate Nico Rosberg were basically untouchable at the front of the grid.
These circumstances six years ago helped kick off the Mercedes era of dominance that continues to this day.
So how did the 35-year-old Brit get to 92? His consistency. You know exactly how Hamilton is going to perform each week. The quality of his driving is unwavering, always on the car’s knife-like edge as he rockets confidently around each track, no matter how new or old it is. He makes virtually no mistakes. And I mean none. I would go as far to say his driving style is absolutely perfect.
His precision also means he’s an extremely clean driver. Unlike his other contemporary all-time greats such as Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, he never purposely collided with other drivers in an attempt to force them out of a race and maintain their points advantage. While he fought hard with drivers such as Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton never made purposely reckless maneuvers to endanger himself or his opponent.
Sure, you can argue that Hamilton was only able to break the record because of the dominant cars he’s driven for most of his career. But if the cars Hamilton drove were so good, then his teammates, also driving the same car, would theoretically have a similar number of wins, but that’s just not the case.
The sport’s only Black driver ever is also the most winning driver of all time. That’s Black excellence, folks, plain and simple.
Congratulations, Lewis. You deserved it.