Perhaps one of the most admirable of Lewis Hamilton’s characteristics is a reluctance to aggrandise his success. Often his reaction when prompted is one of genuine, faint disbelief. This weekend at the Eifel Grand Prix a victory for the world champion would equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Formula One wins. Should Hamilton do so it will be an achievement that, as much as he might not believe it, places him as one of the greats in the sporting pantheon and a pivotal force in the history of Formula One.
There is symbolism, too, about the venue of his second attempt to equal the mark; the Nürburgring is only 50 miles from Kerpen, where the German great was born, and is a track where Schumacher has more race wins – five – than any other driver.
When Schumacher dominated the sport, winning five consecutive titles for Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 and taking his total to seven, no one was expected to come close to matching, let alone, surpassing him. Hamilton, now 35 and in his 14th season, has almost done so. Schumacher’s greatest achievement, those seven titles, will surely be matched by Hamilton this year as well.
After his victory at the Tuscan Grand Prix the Englishman considered the prospect of equalling Schumacher’s number of race victories. “It just doesn’t seem real,” he said. As always he thanked his Mercedes team but concluded with a sense of wonderment at his own success. “I’m just a link in the chain. But I never thought that I would be here, that’s for sure.”