PORTIMAO, Portugal, Oct 25 – Lewis Hamilton on Sunday won a record-setting 92nd Formula One race when he claimed victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix, breaking away from the 91 wins he shared with Michael Schumacher.
AFP Sport looks at six of his greatest and most significant race wins:
2007 – Canada (maiden win in his sixth race)
— On a circuit that was to become one of his favourite hunting grounds, a 22-year-old Hamilton claimed his maiden F1 triumph to take over the lead of the championship, winning a brutal contest with four Safety Car interventions.
In beating his then teammate Fernando Alonso at McLaren, he proved that the rare and precocious talent that saw him finish third on his debut in Australia was here to stay.
2008 – Britain (his seventh win in his 26th race)
— Arguably the most famous and memorable victory of all, this was a titanic triumph for the Stevenage-born racer.
He came to Silverstone from two pointless races and under pressure and he qualified fourth, but he passed team-mate and pole-sitter Heikki Kovaleinen to lead on lap five.
In teeming rain, he drove with enthralling elan to win by 68 seconds. It was a landmark statement of his ability, a virtuoso wet-weather drive and it paved the way to his first dramatic title win accomplished by gaining a place at the final corner of the final race in Brazil.
McLaren even asked him to slow down – to which he responded: “If I go any slower, I’ll lose concentration.”
2013 – Hungary (his 22nd win in his 120th race)
— Many believed Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes, as successor to Michael Schumacher and team-mate to Nico Rosberg, was a risky move.
A tyre failure had ruined his outing at the British Grand Prix, but he proved himself with this flawless, if unexpected, win in searing heat at the Hungaroring a few weeks later.
He won from pole with notable passes of Jenson Button and Mark Webber following his pit stops. “If we win tomorrow, it will be a miracle,” Hamilton had forecast after qualifying.
2018 – Germany (his 66th win in his 219th race)
— Ten years and four championships later, this race probably decided the outcome of the 2018 title race.
Hamilton, from 14th on the grid due to hydraulics problems, stormed through the field and relentless heavy rain to a famous win while championship rival Sebastian Vettel ran off ignominiously into a gravel trap at Hockenheim’s Sachskurve in his Ferrari.
It was the Englishman’s only win from outside the top ten on the grid. “I knew there was a chance to win when it started to rain,” he said. “I didn’t make any mistakes so I was very proud of that.”
2018 – Italy (his 68th win in his 222nd race)
— On Ferrari’s home ground, in front of the passionate tifosi, this was a swashbuckling win for the purist racing afficionadas.
Hamilton qualified third behind the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, but triumphed thanks to some bold passing moves and sheer determination.
His audacity in passing Vettel on the opening lap was a crushing setback for the German’s race and title ambitions.
2019 – Monaco (his 77th win in his 235th race)
— On an emotional weekend following the death of his friend and mentor Niki Lauda, this was a triumph of judgement and flawless defensive driving that confirmed Hamilton’s status as a legendary champion.
He won pole and led, but Mercedes gave him ‘mediums tyres’ during an early Safety Car spell – an error that put him under intense pressure from Max Verstappen for 60 laps. “One of my hardest races and most strategic drives,” he said. The team dedicated their win to Lauda.