Last time out in Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton became the first driver to reach 100 pole positions in Formula1, 32 poles ahead of Michael Schumacher in second place.
Despite this incredible achievement, there is still doubt among some as to whether he belongs up there with the likes of Schumacher, Fangio, and Senna.
I am not going to go into that debate, however. What I am going to do is outline my reasons for why I believe Lewis Hamilton is the greatest driver of all time.
Let’s find out whether you agree with me or not.
The greatest rookie season of all time
Lewis Hamilton exploded onto the Formula1 scene in 2007 with a rookie season, the likes of which had not been seen before or since.
Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya left McLaren at the end of the 2006 season, allowing McLaren to give two-time world champion Fernando Alonso a drive for the 2007 season.
They took a gamble on the 2006 GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton for their second seat, hoping he would play a number two role for Alonso, kind of like Bottas at Mercedes.
However, no one thought to give Lewis the memo, as he hit the ground running in his very first race, scoring a podium his first time out. While eight drivers have scored podiums on their F1 debut, only Lewis Hamilton did it for his first nine races.
That’s right, he was on the podium in his first nine races in the premier class of motor sport.
He scored two victories during that run of nine consecutive podium finishes, four in total for the season. He was leading the championship going into the final race of the season.
He would finish the season second behind 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, but Lewis was undoubtedly the star of the season.
The only other driver to showcase such raw talent in his rookie season was Jacque Villeneuve, who also won four races in his rookie season. And just like Villeneuve, Lewis would go on to win the championship in his second season in F1.
Wet weather genius
Formula1 is the jewel of motor sport, and arguably has the best drivers on the planet. If F1 drivers are the best, then the wet weather masters are the ‘creme de la creme’.
F1 fans know that to get respect as a driver in Formula1 you must win wet races. It’s basically a rite of passage and Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest to ever drive in the wet.
Talking about his wet weather prowess brings to mind Silverstone 2008. Lewis Hamilton’s drive in the torrential rains is hailed by many as the greatest wet weather drive of all time.
In a race where all the other championship contenders struggled, with the likes of Massa spinning five times, Hamilton bolted around the track at breathtaking speeds, at one point even prompting his team to tell him to slow down.
At certain points in the race, he was over 5 seconds a lap faster than anyone. It was incredible, but it was also just the beginning.
Over the years, he would reinforce his wet weather greatness, with moments like his qualifying lap in Monza 2017 to take pole and not to mention his performance in Turkey last year where he won the race on worn intermediate tires that should never have seen the finish line.
The real Mr. Saturday
You will frequently hear George Russell called ‘Mr. Saturday’ because of how he always manages to out-qualify his teammates and frequently get his Williams into Q2. But don’t be fooled; Lewis Hamilton is the real Mr. Saturday.
No driver in F1 history has been as successful on a Saturday as Lewis Hamilton has. In 270 race entries, Lewis has qualified on pole 100 times. He has also taken a pole position in every season he has competed in F1, which is ridiculous if you ask me.
While Lewis just surpassed Schumacher’s win record (91) last season, he overtook him on pole positions in Monza in 2017. Schumacher’s 68 poles were once thought to be unreachable. Lewis is now on 100 poles and still counting.
Consistent like no other
In 2007 when Lewis had just emerged onto the scene, the great Michael Schumacher was asked in an interview what he thought about him.
Schumacher responded that he wasn’t very surprised by the young Hamilton’s pace; he had followed him in GP2. What had surprised Schumacher, however, was Lewis’ consistency so early in his career.
It is this consistency, I believe, that has made him the most successful driver in F1. He is always there or thereabout. He’s competing for poles regardless of the track, and he is always one of the fastest people on track come race day.
Lewis has won a race in every season he has competed in Formula1. It is this consistency that makes him such a lethal world championship machine because even when he doesn’t win, he will be on the podium.
This ability to be in the fight at every track and minimize the damage when things don’t go his way is why he is a seven-time world champion. Because while other drivers have on and off days, Lewis is always in the mix.
He’s done it his way
Last but not least, Lewis Hamilton has gone about his F1 career his way, much to the chagrin of his critics. Before Lewis, there was a way to behave as an F1 driver, especially if you hoped to become world champion or even last in the sport.
Lewis defied all those expectations of what an F1 driver should be off track. From his jet-setting lifestyle to his creative expression in both the fashion and music industries, Lewis Hamilton has done it all while still managing to take time out to school his colleagues on track.
It is this versatility that makes him one of the biggest stars the sport has ever had. Those are the reasons why I think he is the greatest of all time. Do you agree?
Julius Kakwenzire is a self-confessed F1 addict. When he’s not getting emotional at the race track’s proceedings, he’s working on great fintech products at Lupiiya.