Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won Formula One’s World Championship for a seventh time following victory at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday (November 15).
Hamilton is now the joint most-successful racing driver in the history of the sport. He equalled Michael Schumacher’s achievement in terms of titles, after already surpassing the German’s number of race wins last month.
Victory at a treacherously wet and slippery Istanbul Park track in a topsy-turvy race was the 94th of the 35-year-old Briton’s career. As he received the congratulations of his team, Hamilton was almost overcome with emotion in the car after the race, saying: “To all the kids out there, dream the impossible.”
It was a drive befitting the monumental nature of Hamilton’s achievement. The British driver trod carefully in the opening stages of the race and even made a couple of small mistakes as the drivers fought for grip in the wet conditions. The race opened up for him at around half-distance as he once again made decisive strategy calls on tyres from the cockpit and drove with the skill and class that has enabled him to put himself in this position.
The Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez dominated the opening stages, but began to be caught by a train of three cars, with Sebastian Vettel at its back, as the track slowly dried. Red Bull’s Alex Albon was running third, ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari and Hamilton. Ferrari pitted Vettel for fresh tyres on lap 33, having seen how quickly team-mate Charles Leclerc was going on his fresh intermediates, and then Albon spun at Turn Four.
That gave Hamilton a clean run to attack the Racing Points, telling his team: “Don’t box [pit] me, man.”
Despite Stroll saying he did not want to change tyres, Racing Point did pit the Canadian on lap 36, removing him from the lead and shortly afterwards, Hamilton took the lead from Perez. He never looked back.
Hamilton and Perez stayed out on worn tyres, as the Mercedes driver pulled away in the lead, his only concern being whether his worn intermediate tyres would last. That concern was put into stark perspective by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn went into the race knowing he had to out-score Hamilton by at least eight points to keep the championship alive. But he had a dreadful day, spinning at least five times and finishing 14th, lapped by Hamilton.
When told there were four laps left late in the race, a downcast Bottas said: “I wish it was less.”