ISTANBUL • The words “Still I Rise” are tattooed large across Lewis Hamilton’s shoulder blades and that assertion has been self-evident this year.
The Mercedes driver’s seventh Formula One championship was secured in Turkey with three races to spare yesterday, raising him to new heights as the sport’s joint-most successful driver of all time and with surely more to come.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started,” he said after winning the Turkish Grand Prix for a record-equalling seventh drivers’ title, matching Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s feat.
Hamilton has already powered past the German when it comes to wins (94), pole positions (97), podiums (163) and most consecutive points finishes (47), and the Briton told reporters that it was the culmination of a childhood dream.
“Definitely a bit lost for words. I think I have to always start with saying a huge thank you to all the guys here and back at the factory for giving us this opportunity,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team (in 2013). The journey we have been on has been monumental.
“I know I often I say it is beyond (my) wildest dreams but my whole life, secretly I have dreamt as high as this.
“It felt so far fetched. I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard.
“Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can do together, me and this team.
“We dreamed of this when I was young. It is so important for kids to see this and don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible. You have got to chase it and never give up.”
Despite starting sixth on the grid, the 35-year-old sealed his latest title with a typically measured masterclass.
In what will go down as one of his finest triumphs, he handled treacherous wet early conditions to lap his only remaining title rival Valtteri Bottas for his 10th victory in 14 races this season.
WHEN THERE’S A WILL
I know I often I say it is beyond (my) wildest dreams but my whole life, secretly I have dreamt as high as this.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 42min 19.313sec
2 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point +31.633sec
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +31.960
4 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari +33.858
5 Carlos Sainz (Esp) McLaren +34.363
6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +44.873
7 Alex Albon (Tha) Red Bull +46.484
8 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren +61.259 *fastest lap
9 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point +72.353
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault +95.460
14 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo +1 lap
1 Hamilton 307pts 2 Bottas 197 3 Verstappen 170 4 Perez 100 5 Leclerc 97
1 Mercedes 504pts 2 Red Bull 240 3 Racing Point 154 4 McLaren 149 5 Renault 136
Hamilton came home over half a minute clear of Sergio Perez for Racing Point, while Sebastian Vettel earned his first podium of the term after finishing third.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff felt the race at Istanbul Park showed why his star driver is a cut above the competition, telling Sky Sports: “It shows how he is capable to the situation that went against him, he was the only one who kept it on the road and that is the difference today.
“Look at what has happened today, he was as hungry as a lion, driving a car on slicks in the end. I don’t see any of the motivation stopping.
“This year has been very, very special, in difficult circumstances for everyone… I hope we’ve entertained and that’s why coming on top after such a year in such a tough race, it’s exceptional.”
Bottas, who finished 14th after a desultory outing that saw him spin several times, admitted that his Silver Arrows teammate was the superior driver, adding: “He deserves it fully. He was better overall. It is really good for him. I will try to beat him next year.”
England football great Gary Lineker, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and former Mercedes teammate and 2016 champion Nico Rosberg led the chorus of praise after Hamilton’s latest achievement.
Pundit Ferdinand tweeted: “Just watched Lewis Hamilton drive to his 7th world title. The greatest sportsman this country has ever produced – no doubts.”
Lineker agreed, tweeting: “Has to be right up there alongside our greatest ever sportspeople. Stunning”, while Rosberg said it was “massively deserved” and one of the “greatest achievements in the history of sport”.
Hamilton’s continued F1 mastery also renewed calls for him to be knighted, with compatriot and McLaren driver Lando Norris saying: “Only one person in the whole world has achieved what he has done, that is Michael Schumacher.
“He has led both on and off the track, and other athletes who have done such things in sport have been honoured. So I see no reason why he shouldn’t.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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