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
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
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
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
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.