The Singapore Grand Prix this weekend could be a huge moment in Lewis Hamilton’s career.
The 30-year-old Mercedes driver, who has been in red-hot form this season, is a favourite to win the night race, which will enable him to equal two milestones that have been set by his idol Ayrton Senna. The first one is equalling the Brazilian’s impressive record of 41 race victories and the other is equalling his record for the most consecutive poles, which was set 26 years ago.
A 41st race victory would not exactly be a Formula One record as Michael Schumacher (91) rules the roost in that aspect, but a win will represent a landmark moment in the Brit’s career. He grew up following the deceased driver during his reign of the Formula One sport in the 80’s and 90’s, before an unfortunate crash at Imola ended his life at a young age of 34.
Here are some quotes from Lewis Hamilton talking about emulating Ayrton Senna, as reported on SkySports.
"Since I was a boy I have always wanted to emulate Ayrton and be as similar to him as l could – whilst still being myself,”
“I've always wanted to drive a car like he could or handle a car like he could.”
"It's quite surreal to think that 20 years later l am fighting for a similar number of podiums or championships, but we have to remember that if he continued he would have won many more. But l feel proud to be in terms of results to be similar to such a great."
Ayrton had managed 41 wins in 161 starts before his sad demise, although his last victory actually came in his 158th start at the Australian Grand Prix. If Lewis Hamilton picks up first place at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, he could incredibly end up with the same race statistics as his favourite driver.
While Hamilton definitely has a battle on his hands along with Sebastian Vettel (41) in his pursuit to beat Schumacher’s huge record for most wins, he will need to overcome second-placed Alain Prost (51) first. The second milestone, in comparison, is a lot more outright and levelling it would establish him in the record books for many years to come.
Comparing records in detail:
There is no doubt that Lewis Hamilton has benefitted hugely from the greater reliability of cars since he made his debut in the Australian Grand Prix in 2007. He has failed to finish only 22 races in his career as compared to 63 DNF’s (Did not finish) for Ayrton Senna, whose entire Formula One career was plagued by car-related issues.
Hamilton’s recent victory at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix in Monza places him in fourth in the list of most podium finishes with 81, beating Ayrton Senna (80) and trailing leader Michael Schumacher (155).
He falls short of Senna’s overall record in two areas – number of pole positions and number of front row starts.
The former McLaren driver’s 49 pole positions in his 160 starts gives him a strike rate of 30 percent, which falls very short of Senna who managed 65 poles at a rate of 40 percent. The record holder for the number of pole positions is also held by Schumacher with 68 poles in 306 starts, although the strike rate isn’t as healthy at 22 percent.
In terms of front row starts, Senna (87) still leads Hamilton (84) at this point.
A third world title also beckons for Lewis, who is already 53 points ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the race for the Formula One Championship. He only needs to finish in second place in the remaining seven races till the final event in Abu Dhabi, having already won the Australian Grand Prix, Chinese Grand Prix, Bahrain Grand Prix, Canadian Grand Prix, British Grand Prix, Belgian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix earlier in the year.
Winning a third F1 Championship would help Hamilton emulate another Senna achievement though he still trails Sebastien Vettel (4), Alain Prost (4), Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) in the list of most championship wins by a driver.
Update: Lewis Hamilton missed out on equalling Senna’s record in Singapore, although he did make up for it by winning the Japanese Grand Prix.