Despite the fashion in which he is re-setting almost all of the sport’s records, there is still a small minority of critics who claim that Lewis Hamilton‘s domination of the sport in recent years is down to being in the best car, ‘put him in a Williams or Alfa Romeo, then we’ll see’, they argue.
Yes, Mercedes has totally dominated the hybrid era, and has consistently produced the best cars, however, there is no denying that Hamilton is an essential part of the all-conquering package.
Needing just 8 points more than his teammate in order to secure the title, the Briton could have cruised on Sunday afternoon since said teammate was never in a point scoring position almost from the moment the race began.
However, Hamilton delivered a veritable masterclass, winning the race – and his seventh title – in a style (and conditions) in which the equally remorseless Michael Schumacher would have revelled.
Perhaps Hamilton’s iconic Istanbul performance is best summed-up by another world champion, Sebastian Vettel.
“There’s no doubt that Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved,” said the German after the race. “He’s equalled the championships, he’s won more races, he has a lot more pole positions so I think he’s done everything you can ask for.
“I think today is the best proof,” he added. “It’s a difficult race, a very difficult race to stay on track and two hours long and probably, if we’re honest, it wasn’t his race to win and he still won it. Once again, he managed to pull out something special out of that bag and therefore I think he deserves everything he has achieved.”
‘It wasn’t his race to win’, indeed, and Hamilton admits that he wants more such races.
“I want more of these weekends,” said Hamilton. “More tricky conditions like this… the more opportunities like this, the more I’m able to show what I’m able to do.
“I think hopefully you can see… I think I deserve my respect. I think I have that with my peers. I think they can see how hard… they will know how hard today is, particularly that it is not a car thing.
“However, I couldn’t have done this without that amazing group of people behind me,” he added, “but there is another great driver who is alongside me, who has the same car, who obviously didn’t finish where I finished.
“I do notice that there are these interesting comments from past drivers, particularly,” he continued, a none too subtle reference to Sir Jackie Stewart no doubt. “I really, really promise you, and hope that I stand by my word, when I stop in ten, 20 years from now and look back, I want to be embracing and encouraging the next youngsters that are here, whether it’s Lando, whether its George, whoever it may be, whether it’s Max.
“I know how hard it is to do the job and I know how this world works. Of course you have to have a good team and of course you have to have a great car. There is no driver that’s ever won – really won – the championship in the past without it.
“It goes back the same all the way down to karting. You’ve got to have the right equipment. I remember my first championship. I raced and the kid that won was on rocket engines, which Jenson Button‘s Dad had tuned. Those engines were real rockets. Compared to the cheap, crappy engine that I had which was, y’know, fifth hand, there was no way I could keep up with these kids, and I remember that one weekend he was moving on to… Kimbolton in 1992, 1993, and he was moving on to the next class, he was selling on these engines. I remember my Dad had to re-mortgage the house to get this £2000 engine – but what we did that day was me and this kid, who’d been winning everything, we put his other engine that I was going to buy, that we were looking to buy, in my car and I was ahead of him all the time on track.
“So, of course, you’ve got to have the equipment, of course you’ve got to have it and that’s something that will always be in this sport. But then it’s also what you do with it that really also counts – and hopefully you can see that today.”