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Lewis Hamilton: Year-by-year analysis of his Formula 1 career (2007-2018)

Lewis Hamilton enjoying another of his stellar drives for an F1 win
Lewis Hamilton enjoying another of his stellar drives for an F1 win

Lewis Hamilton is a serial winner. And now he is a 5-time world champion - A feat achieved only by Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. He has been lucky to have always driven for a team towards the sharp end of the grid, but he is where he is on merit. He has consistently shown to be the fastest man over a lap.

He has never finished below fifth (2011) in the overall drivers' standing in any of his 12 seasons. Hamilton has won Grands Prix every season and been on pole at least once in every single year of competing.

"He was able to win with a dominant car, with a good car like 2010 or 2012, or with bad cars like 2009 and 2011. Not all the champions can say that" — Fernando Alonso

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That's high praise from a driver who himself is acknowledged to have those same ability demonstrated at Renault, Ferrari and McLaren. Lewis though has always been a polarising figure, he still is, with a section of people still pointing to the advantage he has with such a fast and dominant car with him for 5 straight years now.

Every driver mops around when he doesn't have the best machinery on the grid, Lewis does too. However few can wring the last horsepower out of their machine to snatch an opportunistic, against the script win. Hamilton is certainly one of those.

While he did make a remarkable debut, the seasons leading up to his second title and the subsequent Mercedes dominance saw a lot of ebbs and flows, peak, troughs and plateaus. Here's a recap of Hamilton's performance from every season of his brilliant F1 career.


2007 | Race Wins: 4 | Poles: 6 | Second

Hamilton after taking his first ever win in F1 in Montreal, Canada
Hamilton after taking his first ever win in F1 in Montreal, Canada

Lewis Hamilton looked like the real deal since his very first corner in F1 in Melbourne. A stunning return for a rookie, he raked in 9 consecutive podiums starting from his debut. Of course, there was his massive rivalry with Fernando Alonso and it was largely due to how similar they are in terms of racing drivers - great at wheel-to-wheel racing, not giving an inch.

The infighting at McLaren notwithstanding, he missed out on being a rookie world champion as Kimi Raikkonen stole the title in Brazil from him and Alonso, but he had announced his arrival with aplomb.


2008 | Race Wins: 5 | Poles: 7 | World Champion

With Ferrari's Felipe Massa who finished just 1 point behind Hamilton in the title race
With Ferrari's Felipe Massa who finished just 1 point behind Hamilton in the title race

Hamilton became the then youngest world champion in the most thrilling way possible - at the last corner of the last Grand Prix in Brazil, leaving Felipe Massa and the Brazilians crestfallen. Expected to be in a fight with defending champion Raikkonen, Massa proved to be the Ferrari driver that he was in a dogfight with.

While not quite consistently brilliant as in his rookie year, on his days, he was sublime. In the end, he had the car underneath and luck besides him to clinch his maiden title by a single point, edging Massa 98-97.


2009 | Race Wins: 2 | Poles: 4 | Fifth

Sharing the Hungaroring podium with Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen
Sharing the Hungaroring podium with Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen

A raft of new regulations came in and Brawn GP capitalised the best in its only season in F1. Hamilton couldn't defend his title as Brawn and fellow British driver, Jenson Button blew away the field in the first half of the season. He however recovered with McLaren-Mercedes post the summer break to win in Hungary and Singapore.

The defending champion finished fifth in the standings in a machine that was behind the pace of Brawn and Red Bull, scraping with Ferrari and Renault and hauling it to higher than expected finishes. Ultimately though, it was an underwhelming campaign.

2010 | Race Wins: 3 | Poles: 1 | Fourth

Hamilton celebrating his victory at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium in 2010
Hamilton celebrating his victory at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium in 2010

For the second time in his career, Hamilton had a reigning world champion sharing the McLaren-Mercedes garage with him in Jenson Button.

Yet again the contest was close and many expected Hamilton to dominate the garage. He didn't entirely. McLaren returned with a very fast but fragile car that kept Hamilton in the hunt with wins in Istanbul, Montreal and Spa. It was one of those rare F1 seasons when 3 teams and 6 drivers were in the hunt for a race win throughout and Hamilton did give a fine account of his talent and race craft.


2011 | Race Wins: 3 | Poles: 1 | Fifth

A tough year in which Jenson Button was the better driver at McLaren
A tough year in which Jenson Button was the better driver at McLaren

By his own admission, it was his annus horribilis. Outscored for the first time in his career by a teammate, it is fair to say he was outraced as well by Jenson Button. This was a season in which he was error-prone and frequently summoned by the stewards.

He was drawn to Felipe Massa like a magnet, colliding multiple times with the Brazilian as the season went on. Yet, he was the only driver to break Red Bull's stranglehold on the pole position and winning thrice - in China, Germany and Abu Dhabi.


2012 | Race Wins: 4 | Poles: 7 | Fourth

A quick car, the MP4- 27 also brought a lot of retirements for Hamilton
A quick car, the MP4- 27 also brought a lot of retirements for Hamilton

As many as 5 DNFs (retirements) derailed his chances of a title tilt as him and Jenson Button finished 190-188 in points and fourth and fifth overall. McLaren-Mercedes by the second half had the fastest car but disappointingly ended up with neither of the championships.

Despite driving the best he had since his championship-clinching 2008 campaign, frequent break-downs and disappointments led to the surprise move to Mercedes in 2013, breaking away from the McLaren stable that he was with since he was 13.

2013 | Race Wins: 1 | Poles: 5 | Fourth

Cheered on by the Mercedes engineers at the chequered flag on his first victory with them
Cheered on by the Mercedes engineers at the chequered flag on his first victory with them

This was the last year of the V8 engines and there wasn't much to grab hold to as Adrian Newey had built a rocketship at Red Bull. Hamilton still got his sole victory in Hungary while teammate Nico Rosberg won in Monaco and Silverstone. Hamilton ended up outscoring his teammate 189-171.

It seemed unlikely when he announced the move, but with McLaren having a horrible car in 2013, his bet now looked to be timed just right. Plus, Mercedes was the best-prepared constructor for the V6 turbo era, beginning in 2014. An era he was well placed to dominate .


2014 | Race Wins: 11 | Poles: 7 | World Champion

Jubilation in the Mercedes garage at Hamilton's first title with them and his second overall
Jubilation in the Mercedes garage at Hamilton's first title with them and his second overall

It was clear from the first round that the incoming world champion will be either one of the Mercedes drivers. Hamilton quite surprisingly was out-qualified by Rosberg 11-7, the only instance in his career, although it included many mechanical failures in some qualifying sessions throughout the year.

However, his march to the second world title was built on 11 race wins compared to Nico's 5, with only Daniel Ricciardo winning 3 races and the only Mercedes beater in 2014. He made the best of a truly dominant car, the first of his career and one that was decidedly superior to the rest of the trailing field who were found wanting at both horsepower and aerodynamics.


2015 | Race Wins: 10 | Poles: 11 | World Champion

Hamilton's third title was won in style at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, USA
Hamilton's third title was won in style at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, USA

It was a convincing season, but the car advantage was far too much for him to slip off and miss a chance to become a 3-time champ like he always aspired to be, to match Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton's 11 poles came in the first 12 races, thus completely eliminating Nico Rosberg or Sebastian Vettel's chances of throwing forth a sustained challenge to dethrone him. He was largely untroubled in the title defence until Rosberg finally figured a way to beat him at the far end of the year, after the title had been decided in Austin, USA.

2016 | Race Wins: 10 | Poles: 12 | Second

An ecstatic Nico Rosberg won the title from Hamilton in 2016 at the final race in Abu Dhabi
An ecstatic Nico Rosberg won the title from Hamilton in 2016 at the final race in Abu Dhabi

It took a zen-like approach from Nico Rosberg and few botched upstarts by Hamilton for the German to finally win his only F1 title. Over the course of the season, Rosberg held the psychological edge as he carried over his momentum from last year into 2016.

Hamilton still had 10 victories to Nico's 9, more poles and led more laps, in the third straight face-off between childhood karting friends turned fierce rivals. But the crown slipped away - and for the second time after Button in 2011, he finished behind a teammate on points.


2017 | Race Wins: 9 | Poles: 11 | World Champion

Hamilton won the battle quite convincingly in the end from Sebastian Vettel
Hamilton won the battle quite convincingly in the end from Sebastian Vettel

For the first time in 3 years, the direct championship rival was not his teammate but Sebastian Vettel in a resurgent Ferrari. He went up against Vettel and while it appeared that the fight was going to go deep into the season, with fairly evenly matched cars, post the summer break, he blew away the field. 5 out of 6 wins in the second half of the year knocked the wind out of Vettel who imploded under the pressure as Hamilton matched him to become the latest 4-time world champion after Fangio, Prost, Schumacher and Vettel.


2018 | Race Wins: 9 | Poles: 9 | World Champion

Hamilton now has got Michael Schumacher's 91 F1 wins in sight
Hamilton now has got Michael Schumacher's 91 F1 wins in sight

The fifth one - sealed in Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City, probably will be the title that he will enjoy the most - having not had the fastest car over the course of several races this year.

Ferrari had made massive gains, even nudged ahead of Mercedes. The consensus of the paddock held that a very quick Ferrari held an advantage over Mercedes, at least until the Belgian Grand Prix. Even Ferrari insiders concede that Hamilton has driven an error-free season. Hockenheim, Monza, Singapore and Suzuka were won with stellar drives and he deserves the accolades coming his way. It was won with style, class, skill and speed.

#All statistics as of Mexican Grand Prix 2018.

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Edited by Victor R. Lopez M.
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