Where do the numbers place Lewis Hamilton in the pantheon of F1’s greats?

Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 world drivers’ championship lifts him into the next level of Formula One greatness, joining Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost on four, with just two other drivers having won more.

But after another season of dominance, where do the numbers put Lewis in the all-time list of the sport’s legends? Looking at podiums, race wins, pole positions and titles, what sort of company is he keeping?

World drivers’ championships

Level 3rd

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Hamilton’s fourth world drivers’ championship obviously only adds to his greatness, and if he were to retire now he would do so a legend of the sport – but it’s not just seven-time champion Michael Schumacher who leads the Brit.

Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio sets the bar in second place with five world titles, impressively earned in just seven full seasons.

Fangio also claimed the runner-up spot twice, and won the last of his titles at the grand old age of 46 – if Hamilton is still racing in his forties, you can expect him to have surpassed Fangio’s tally of five.

Race wins

2nd

(Jason Cairnduff/PA)

For a long time Schumacher’s total of 91 race wins looked untouchable, but Hamilton might just fancy his chances after another successful year.

The Brit moved past Prost into second in the all-time list during the 2016 season and has since gone clear of the Frenchman with nine more race wins so far this year.

His current total of 62 victories, over half of which have come with Mercedes in the last four seasons, leaves Vettel (fourth) and Ayrton Senna (fifth) in his dust.

Hamilton is still a mammoth 29 race wins off Schumacher’s total, but three more dominant seasons would take him into the German’s ballpark.

Pole positions

1st

(David Davies/PA)

Schumacher set plenty of insurmountable-looking bars during his career, but one that Hamilton has managed to clear is his pole positions record.

The Briton took his eighth pole of the season at this year’s Italian Grand Prix to reach 69 (now on 72), surpassing the former Ferrari man’s tally of 68.

Hamilton then crucially took the championship lead for the first time in 2017 with victory over third-placed Vettel on race day, completing a memorable weekend for the 32-year-old.

Podiums

2nd

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Hamilton’s nine consecutive podiums from the off in his rookie season propelled him into the limelight, and while he has surpassed Schumacher for pole positions, the German’s remarkable consistency means his podiums record remains intact.

Lewis has made his way up for the national anthems 116 times, more than anyone else except Schumacher, whose total of 155 gives the Mercedes driver something to aim for.

Hamilton’s podium percentage is better than Schumacher’s, but when it comes to totals he’s not in the same league – yet.

What the numbers don’t say

(Martin Rickett/PA)

They say the numbers don’t lie, but they can be obtuse.

For example, how can you measure someone like Senna, whose racing career was cut short?

How can you categorise Fernando Alonso’s quality when his car has been so poor recently?

Hamilton’s numbers are mightily impressive, but fortunately they are not the be-all and end-all of sporting measurement.


 

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