Lewis Hamilton, who recently received his Knighthood, turned 36 today. The reigning World Champion, with as many as seven Formula 1 championship triumphs to his nam,e will be looking to add one more to his tally this year.
It is hard to believe that the young McLaren prodigy, who was so fondly groomed by Ron Dennis himself, would turn out to achieve so much in the sport. Call it luck, a fast car or whatever you may choose to. But Lewis Hamilton is the winningest driver in history right now. By the looks of it, there are still a few more chapters left to be written in his career.
Lewis Hamilton's five most memorable Formula 1 races
On the day Lewis Hamilton turns 36, we look back at one of the most illustrious careers in the history of the sport and pick five races that have made the Formula One driver an all-time great.
Without further ado, let us get started.
#1 British Grand Prix 2008 - The New Rainmeister
By his second season in the sport, Lewis Hamilton had already established himself as one of the best drivers on the grid. With Fernando Alonso driving an uncompetitive Renault, the title fight would be fought between the drivers at McLaren and Ferrari.
In treacherous conditions at one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar, Lewis Hamilton put on a clinic. He set out in his McLaren to clock the fastest laps at will while his championship rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa struggled to keep their cars on the track.
Lewis Hamilton's driving was the stuff of legends, as he won the race with a margin of a whopping 68 seconds to the second-placed driver, Nick Heidfeld. By this time everyone was already aware that Lewis Hamilton was special, but what he did at Silverstone put him in a completely different league.
#2 Hungarian Grand Prix 2013 - First win with Mercedes
Shocked was the reaction everyone had when Lewis Hamilton decided to switch teams from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013.
McLaren were a perennial championship contender while Mercedes were still finding its footing in Formula One. Under Ross Brawn, Niki Lauda and co, the German outfit could have done great things, but they were yet to prove themselves in the world of F1.
All this changed when Lewis Hamilton joined Mercedes. The switch coincided with the downfall of McLaren, as 2013 saw it drop down to midfield while Mercedes took a step towards the front of the grid.
Lewis Hamilton, although still not comfortable with his car, saw his teammate Nico Rosberg pick up two victories in the season while he was yet to do the same.
He would right that wrong at the Hungaroring in Hungary. Lewis Hamilton took pole position and dominated the race to clock what would be the first of many victories for the Hamilton-Mercedes partnership.
The win would serve as a vindication for Lewis Hamilton after many had questioned his move to Mercedes as a step down in competitiveness.
#3 Hungarian Grand Prix 2017 - Giving the position back to Bottas
Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso: what is the one thing common amongst all these Formula One legends? None of them would let go of an advantage even if it was at the expense of their teammate.
Most if not all of them had enjoyed the benefits of team orders during their championship reigns, and many were the defacto team leaders even before the season started.
Lewis Hamilton, however, bucked that trend in Hungary in 2017. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were leading the race when Vettel started encountering issues with his car. Due to the issues, the Mercedes team ordered Valtteri Bottas to let Lewis Hamilton pass to attack the Ferraris.
While Lewis Hamilton was unable to overtake the Ferraris, it looked unlikely that he would give the place back to Bottas, as Max Verstappen was catching up fast with Bottas. However, on the last lap, Lewis Hamilton slowed down enough to allow Valtteri Bottas to sneak ahead in the final corner.
In a season that was as intensely contested as 2017, this move showed an entirely different side of Hamilton: a true competitor who would give his teammate an equal opportunity to fight for the championship.
If there is one thing that separates Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton - two legends of the sport - it has to be the way the latter never asked for any special treatment from his team.
#4 German Grand Prix 2018 - Winning the race from 14th on the grid
The German Grand Prix of 2018 is etched in the memories of Formula One fans as the race that forever changed the trajectory of Sebastian Vettel's career. What it also witnessed, though, was a drive worthy of a championship from Lewis Hamilton.
Starting from 14th due to a hydraulics issue in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton came through the field to win the race in what was, until then, a tightlyc ontested championship. That win proved to be pivotal in the championship race, as Hamilton came through adversity to win while Vettel crashed out from the lead.
In the title fight, this race proved who held the edge when it came to mental strength, as Lewis Hamilton put an exclamation mark on his rivalry with Vettel.
Hamilton went from strength to strength from thereon to win his fifth title while Vettel crumbled under pressure and ultimately lost the title and his Ferrari seat in subsequent years.
#5 Turkish Grand Prix 2020 - best car or best driver?
It's hard to argue that Mercedes have had the best car for a better part of the decade. It's also hard to argue that Valteri Bottas, even on his best day, would not be considered amongst the elites of the sport.
Throughout the 2020 season, just like many of the past few seasons, Lewis Hamilton was running away with the championship and stacking wins and podiums on the way. So much so that he came under criticism that most of the results were down to the car that he was driving.
When the Formula One bandwagon reached Turkey and the paddock was welcomed by a slippery track and rain, the formbook was thrown out of the window, and there was no clear pecking order that emerged.
However, one thing that was clear, though, was that Mercedes were struggling the most, as their advantage had vanished in the extreme conditions.
The Mercedes cars qualified a lowly sixth and ninth respectively and just didn't have the pace to compete with the frontrunners. The race was, however, a different story, as in treacherous conditions, Hamilton kept his head while his fellow competitors kept tripping over themselves.
In the unlikeliest of outcomes, Hamilton took the race lead in lap 37 and never relinquished it. Valteri Bottas, driving the other Mercedes, finished the race in 14th place after getting lapped by Lewis Hamilton.
In a season where he was consistently facing criticism because of his car's competitiveness, this was a serious reminder of how good a driver Hamilton is, and it's certainly not the car, it's the driver as well.Published 07 Jan 2021, 23:11 IST