Lewis Hamilton is on the cusp of becoming the most successful driver in the sport's history. He recently signed a one-year extension with Mercedes that safeguards his immediate future.
It also provides him with the opportunity to win a record-breaking eighth world title. Driving a Mercedes, it would be hard not to pick him as the favorite to win the title this year. However, it has been fascinating to hear Lewis Hamilton talk this year.
At the launch of the 2021 Mercedes challenger, Lewis Hamilton was questioned about his priorities for the season. His response focused on the actions he wanted to take to bring diversity and social equality to the sport. He didn't mention the overarching narrative of the season or his path to a record-breaking eighth world championship.
Similarly, after signing his extension with Mercedes, Lewis again said that his goal for the season would be to focus on social issues.
His efforts to bring diversity and equality to the sport have made him stand out amongst all other drivers in Formula 1.
#1 Lewis Hamilton is the best driver on the grid
A standout Formula 1 driver must always be fast. Lewis Hamilton has been the benchmark for drivers for the last half-decade. He is an extremely quick qualifier and is remarkably consistent in races. He holds the record for most pole positions and the most wins in Formula 1. He is also arguably the best wet-weather driver in the sport's history. It is a combination of these that make him the best driver on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton has been quick since his first day in a Formula 1 car. He was level on points with two-time reigning world champion Fernando Alonso in his debut season in the series. An astounding feat. He can also boast a race victory in every season that he has driven in Formula 1, an extremely rare accomplishment.
In terms of pure racing statistics, Hamilton lies far above everybody else on the grid.
#2 Cult of personality
Eccentric personalities are hard to come-by in Formula 1. Drivers are often described as boring, lacking any real personality. Most drivers on the grid are PR-trained and rarely deviate. When drivers who don't conform to this archetype join the series, they immediately become fan-favorites. James Hunt, Kimi Raikkonen and Niki Lauda are a few examples of drivers that weren't afraid to speak their minds.
Lewis Hamilton is an unconventional personality amongst Formula 1 drivers. He has been known to do things differently. Hamilton can often be seen enjoying his time off partying and attending events. He also has a clothing line and produces music.
Lewis Hamilton is a well-rounded individual who rose from humble beginnings and reached the pinnacle of his sport. He boasts the largest fan-following of any current driver on the grid, with 21.5 million followers on Instagram. Lewis Hamilton attracts people from different walks of life, which makes him arguably the most marketable and popular driver in the sport's history.
#3 The ability and intent to make a difference
The sport has seen multiple world champions that have had an extraordinary following. Ayrton Senna, Fernando Alonso, and Michael Schumacher come to mind when you think of some of the most popular drivers in Formula 1's history.
However, none of them went out of their way to "fix" the sport. None of them focused on bringing change to the world and Formula 1. It took the first black driver in the sport's history to shed light on key issues of diversity and equality. Lewis has also become a major advocate of global movements such as Black Lives Matter.
Michael Schumacher took initiative to help the people suffering during a tsunami. Ayrton Senna did a lot for the people of Brazil. But neither of them had the desire, global reach and impact that Lewis Hamilton has.
Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in the sport's history. He is also the most impactful driver the sport has ever seen. He remains unrivaled in his push for equality, diversity, and social justice. A combination of these factors make him the standout driver on the grid.