Lewis Hamilton etched his place in the history of Formula One by joining Michael Schumacher as the only other driver with seven Drivers’ Championship crowns. Hamilton has blown away the competition since his move to Mercedes in 2013.
His latest victory in the 2020 campaign has seen Hamilton rise to the top as the leading contender in the Sports Personality of the Year 2020 odds to claim the BBC’s award for a second time. He previously claimed the prize in 2014 and also has four second-place finishes – more than any other sportsperson.
There are no other serious challengers, and it would cement the 35-year-old’s place as one of the greatest athletes in the history of British sport. However, he could even make a case to be the best male athlete to have emerged from the United Kingdom.
Over the last seven years, he has won six titles, failing to win the title only once when he was narrowly beaten out by his team-mate Nico Rosberg in the 2016 campaign. The Brit has now matched Sebastian Vettel’s run of four-straight crowns and is in a good position to beat Schumacher’s record.
During his days with Ferrari, Schumacher won five Drivers’ Championships in a row – displaying a level of dominance not seen before in the sport. Hamilton can eclipse the German next season by first matching his five-straight titles and surpassing him as the most successful driver in Formula One history.
No other competitor in an international sport has enjoyed such a run of success over a long period of time. Hamilton could have had further crowns if not for stretches of bad luck in 2007 and 2016. Britain have had few athletes that have been the signature name of their sport. Football had Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, although few people would mention their names alongside Pele, Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In cricket, you could argue that Ian Botham was the greatest player to have graced the field in terms of natural talent, but his statistics do not quite measure up to others across the world. Jonny Wilkinson could have a claim for rugby, although the best years of his career were ravaged by injury, while New Zealand’s Dan Carter from the same generation was arguably a better all-round player than his English counterpart.
In the world of tennis, Andy Murray is a fine player, but not in the same calibre as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. While no British player has come anywhere near matching the exploits of Jack Nicklaus on the golf course.
Hamilton is alone in his dominance at the top of his sporting field from the United Kingdom. At the age of 35, he still has ample time to enhance his legacy. He will become the name that is synonymous with Formula One, replacing Schumacher as the figurehead of the sport. There are reports claiming that the 35-year-old will receive a knighthood, which would fall in line with others who have received it in the midst of their careers, such as Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Alastair Cook.
It would be a fitting achievement for an outstanding athlete. He certainly has made a case to be considered Britain’s greatest and still has plenty of time left in his career to end the dispute.