Earlier this season (after Barcelona), we published an article celebrating Sir Lewis Hamilton’s 100th pole position in motorsport’s premier category. Many greats have tried over the years to accomplish this once thought to be an impossible feat. Before Lewis Hamilton, the great Michael Schumacher and the legendary Ayrton Senna were the closest to ever come to it at 68 and 65 pole positions, respectively.
It was one thing to imagine that someone could go on to break Schumacher’s record of 68 pole positions; after all, records are there to be broken. But that they would then go on to become F1’s first centurion pole-sitter; that would have been considered blasphemy not too long ago.
And if beating Michael’s 68 poles was considered impossible, the insinuation that someone could beat his 91 wins in one lifetime would have been considered heresy worthy of a trip to the hangman, but that too was beaten. In Portimao last season, Hamilton put on a masterful display in wet and low grip conditions to take the 92nd win of his F1 career and thus overtook Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver by race wins in Formula1. He would go on to match Schumacher’s record of 7 World Championships later that season in Turkey. Another record which on its own was once considered simply impossible to match in the modern era.
However, this season, as Hamilton chases down Verstappen for what would be a record-breaking 8th Formula 1 Championship, Hamilton looks poised to take yet one more record that was once thought to be impossible. At 99 race wins, with several races to go in the calendar, few would dare to bet against Lewis Hamilton becoming Formula1’s first centurion race winner.
Standing head and shoulders above giants
As mentioned above, many gods have dominated in Formula1 before Lewis Hamilton. These men have distinguished themselves from their peers as dominant forces that have ruled for eras and left mountains of records that have stood tall over the ages. Unfortunately, many of these records have been thought to be so impossible to replicate that they have passed from historical accounts to myths and fables about a time that has since passed.
Records like James Hunt’s championship win by a single point over Niki Lauda in a dramatic battle that caught the imagination of even Hollywood, or Schumacher’s 7 World Championships, Senna Vs. Prost, who are together 7-time world champions as well, Fangio’s 5 Wold Championships, Vettel’s domination of the blown diffuser era, Nigel Mansel and many more.
All these great men were the greatest in the sport at one point or another, and they all achieved many records that were once thought to be impossible. However, the centurion race winner label was the one record that eluded all of them, including the great Schumacher himself. Michael got closer than anyone before him, falling short by only 9 race wins.
Michael even came out of retirement to try and get the century of wins under his belt with Mercedes, but it was not meant to be. However, as fate would have it, the man that would replace Michael at Mercedes upon his second retirement would get closer than even he did. And with 99 wins under his belt, several races left this season and two more seasons with the championship-winning Mercedes team, it is no longer a matter of if Lewis Hamilton becomes a centurion race winner, but when and perhaps more interestingly, at what track?
Where is Lewis most likely to take his 100th race win in F1?
Looking forward to the rest of the season, there are 8 confirmed races left in the season, with a potential 9th if F1 manages to replace the Japanese Grand Prix, whose organizers pulled out of this year’s championship during the summer break.
Of those 8 that are confirmed, however, four of them are historically strong tracks for Mercedes. This weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza is a favorite for Mercedes, as is Sochi, The Circuit of the Americas in the United States and Turkey, where Lewis won his seventh World Championship last season.
After that run of historically Mercedes-dominated tracks, we will have Mexico and Brazil, where the Red Bulls always perform well due to the altitude and Saudi Arabia, which is an unknown for everyone. In last year’s performance in the final race at Abu Dhabi is anything to go by, then Red Bull should also be very strong there this season, so if the season goes down to the wire, that might play to Red Bull’s benefit.
Furthermore, we cannot be certain that the next four races are still Mercedes strongholds. Max has qualified on pole at six out of the last seven Grands Prix. Some of those were at Mercedes tracks like Paul Ricard in France and at Spa in Belgium. The only thing we can be sure of is that the Red Bull is the faster car this season, and it has its pick of which tracks to dominate and which ones to compete at.
As it stands, I am skeptical that Lewis Hamilton can still win his 8th Drivers’ Championship this season, but I am all but certain that he will become a centurion race winner. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Sochi or Turkey as the most likely grounds. But I will settle for any race still left on the calendar.