RACE DEBRIEF

    The 2018 Mexican Grand Prix will live long in the memory for Lewis Hamilton. It may have been a race he failed to win, but it was a day he joined the Formula 1 greats, equalling the iconic Juan Manuel Fangio on five world titles. Next on his list will be record-holder Michael Schumacher, who sits on seven championships. That's not bad company to be among, and here’s why he deserves to be there…

    1. Race-winning consistency for 12 straight seasons...

    When Hamilton arrived on the F1 scene 11 years ago, it took him just six races to become a Grand Prix winner. And since that 2007 Canadian GP triumph, Hamilton has been a regular visitor to the top step of the podium.

    Seventy-one times, to be precise.

    But more impressive is that he’s the only driver – let alone five-time world champion – in F1 history to have won a race in every season in which he has competed. Only once, in his maiden campaign with Mercedes in 2013, has he failed to win more than one race in a season – and from 2014-2016 he reached double-figures in race triumphs.

    Currently on nine victories this season, he’s just two short of equalling his best-ever campaign result of 11 wins, and you wouldn’t bet against him achieving that by the season’s end…

    Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium

    2. The most career points in F1 history...

    With wins come points, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the Briton has collected a healthy haul over the years. And it’s yet another category that he dominates, with Hamilton sitting pretty at the top of the career-points standings - and by some way.

    He has accumulated 2,968, with Sebastian Vettel having to settle for second again on 2,719, while Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion bowing out of F1 at the end of this year, has racked up 1,899 points during his career.

    One thing to consider is that the F1 points system was adjusted in 2010, with a race victory increasing from 10 points to 25 points. So for Michael Schumacher, who sits sixth on the list with 1566 points, all of his 91 wins yielded 10 points each, rather than the 25 that Hamilton has collected on 60 occasions.

    What cannot be questioned, though, is the record number of successive points finishes Hamilton has also secured, the Briton going on a magnificent 33-race run of top-ten finishes which came to an end when he retired from this season’s Austrian Grand Prix. That record will take some beating...

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    3. He's now secured consecutive world titles for the second time...

    By winning his fifth world title, Hamilton has become only the second driver in history to win consecutive world titles on two separate occasions.

    The Briton first retained his crown in 2015, and he’s now repeated those exploits three years later. Who was the first driver to do the double-double? You guessed it: A certain Michael Schumacher. Schumacher achieved it in 1994-95, and then again from 2000-04, when he won an unprecedented five titles on the trot.

    There are many reasons Hamilton is regarded as one of the best to have raced in F1, and this is just one…

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    4. A record of front-row starts, more than Mercedes as a team...

    Hamilton has spent most of his Formula 1 career at the front, and that includes on the grid. Of his 227 Grand Prix starts, he's started an impressive 130 races from the front row – that’s more than half! Of course, he has spent much of his career driving great machinery, but he has also made a habit of getting the best out of his car.

    This ability to push his car to its limits in qualifying has helped him become the best in the business, and there’s plenty of time to further stamp his authority. Schumacher, who started 306 Grands Prix, enjoyed 116 front rows while Vettel comes third, with 93 front-row starts from 216 GPs.

    Even Mercedes, who returned to Formula 1 as a works team in 2010, trail their driver on 114. And having extended his contract with the Silver Arrows until 2020, there’s plenty of time for Hamilton to add to this quite impressive tally.

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    5. He sits pretty at the top of the pole-position record books...

    So, of those 130 front-row starts, how many have been as the pole-sitter? A record 81, with his first pole coming at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix – just the sixth race of his career, and the weekend in which he registered his first GP triumph.

    Hamilton has made a habit of tussling it out with the all-time greats in the record books, and this particular stat is no different - he has caught and overhauled Schumacher (68 poles) and his hero, the late Ayrton Senna (65), over the last few years.

    His qualifying exploits are consistent, too, with the Briton registering poles at 24 different Grands Prix, and at 27 different circuits – both records. Impressive stuff!

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    6. The master of converting poles into wins...

    It's one thing to qualify on pole, another to be able to convert that into victory. Once again, Hamilton is one of the very best the sport has ever seen in this category, turning 45 of his 81 poles into race victory.

    In terms of the number of pole-to-flag victories, that sees him sit top of the pile, above the likes of Schumacher, Vettel, Senna and Alain Prost.

    A conversion rate of 55.56% is narrowly below Schumacher, who did it 40 times but with slighter better rate of 58.82%, and Vettel, who has so far edged the Brit by converting 56.36% of his 55 poles into a triumph.

    2018 Singapore GP

    7. He’s led more Grand Prix laps than former world champions Red Bull...

    When Hamilton burst onto the scene in 2007, Red Bull Racing were already two years into their F1 journey – and little did they know it at the time, but they were three seasons away from securing the first of their four successive double world championships.

    Yet such has been Hamilton’s dominance in this sport, that the Briton has led 310 more laps than the fifth most successful constructor in F1 history.

    His brief stint at the front of the field in Austin extended his tally to 3,900 laps led, while Max Verstappen's dominant Mexican Grand Prix win moved the Milton Keynes squad up to a laps-led haul of 3,590.

    But even with Hamilton failing to win either of the last two races, he's still some way ahead of the former world champions. That's some achievement, eh?

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    8. His never-say-die attitude seals another F1 record...

    Hamilton just doesn’t know how to give up, his memorable German Grand Prix triumph this year, in which he claimed a victory on Sebastian Vettel’s home turf despite starting all the way down in 14th, is evidence of that.

    And that performance - which not many had expected following his tough qualifying session in Hockenheim that saw him attempt to push his stricken Mercedes back to the pits - wasn’t the first time he fought his way through the field in emphatic fashion.

    In fact, that was a record fifth time he'd secured a podium having started outside the top ten, and the first time a driver had won a race from as low as P14 since Fernando Alonso’s infamous 2008 Singapore Grand Prix victory.

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    9. A rookie season that remains in the record books...

    When Hamilton stepped foot on the Melbourne tarmac in 2007, preparing for his Grand Prix debut, big things were expected of the reigning GP2 champ. He arrived on the scene with a glowing reputation, and although that race didn’t yield a victory, he duly delivered in a rookie season that quickly became the stuff of legend.

    Six pole positions, four victories (a joint-record with a certain Jacques Villeneuve) and 109 points makes it the most successful debut season in Formula 1 history, and it’ll certainly take some beating.

    Few drivers have arrived in F1 racing with as much fanfare, or as much pressure, as Hamilton, but he kept his cool to deliver the goods – and that was just the beginning of what has been a remarkable journey.

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    10. He has a knack of wrapping up titles early…

    While Hamilton has had his fair share of season-ending, title-deciding races – in 2007 when he lost out to Kimi Raikkonen, and in 2008 and 2014 when he came out on top – he’s also showed that the championship doesn’t always need to go to the final round.

    Three times, in fact, Hamilton has sealed title glory before the campaign’s end. While a mouthwatering season-finale may add to the drama, Hamilton’s number-one priority is to win the title, and as quickly as possible.

    And to achieve this as many times as he has is a further sign of his dominance. Such is his title-clinching prowess, his last two triumphs have been clinched with two races to go, while his 2015 championship was won with three Grands Prix to spare.

    Hamilton doesn’t just win, he does so emphatically…

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