Whether you’re a hardcore follower of Formula 1 or simply a casual observer of the sport, the likelihood is that that you’re aware of the furore and hype surrounding Lewis Hamilton. At the start of the F1 season, Hamilton was a mere 6/5 with most bookmakers to clinch his fifth title, which is as close to a sure thing in modern day racing as you’re likely to see.
When you consider that the grid contains the likes of Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardio, it becomes clear that the bookies already rate Hamilton as one of the best drivers to ever grace the sport. However, is Lewis Hamilton already a great of F1 or does he still have some way to go to secure the same type of legendary status as Senna, Schumacher et al?
In terms of the stats, Hamilton looks almost certain to pick up his fifth title this year and with this, he will move within two of Michael Schumacher’s record breaking haul of seven. Before a flag was waved this year, you could get around 8/1 with a host of new new betting sites that Hamilton would break Schumacher’s record before he hangs up his helmet. When you consider that Hamilton is only 33, it would take a brave punter to back against him adding another three titles to his tally (assuming he picks up the 2018 title that is). It’s also worth pointing out that Hamilton now leads the stats on the most pole positions with 81, which is 13 more than Schumacher. The Brit is also only 20 wins behind Schumacher with 71 and with six less years racing experience at the top level, Hamilton looks set to catch Schumacher as long he maintains his form and longevity.
Of course, it’s not all about stats. Style, character and likeability are all important when considering if Hamilton can be considered an F1 great. One of the main reasons that drivers such as Schumacher and Senna enjoy legendary status throughout the racing world is due to their personalities. Hamilton is certainly one of the more humble and likeable guys on the grid and in terms of style, his "close to the bone" driving approach is certainly reminiscent of Schumacher and Senna when they were in their prime. When all is said and done, F1 remains an entertainment business and drivers who are willing to take calculated risks will always stand out from the more conservative drivers - Hamilton is certainly anything but conservative.
When it comes to his peers, Fernando Alonso is of the opinion that Hamilton is already one of the greatest drivers of all time. Ironically, Hamilton has since reciprocated this praise, claiming that Alonso is the greatest driver that he’s ever faced and that the Spaniard’s honors list doesn’t match up to his driving ability. All in all, it’s fair to say that Hamilton is well respected among his peers as the greatest driver of his generation. Does this mean that he deserves to be included in discussions regarding the legends of the sport? Most F1 aficionados would probably answer yes to that question. Can Hamilton prove the bookmakers right and overtake Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles? Quite possibly.