Lewis Hamilton checked into the Hall of Fame yet again with a spirited triumph at the Eifel Grand Prix
For fourteen years, no one came close to matching Michael Schumacher’s mighty haul of 91 Grand Prix victories. The great German first retired from the sport in 2006, after setting the gargantuan benchmark for his successors to dare try and beat.
It was going to take something of a special effort by a special athlete to match or surpass that record; someone, who would win as consistently as Schumacher himself, like a winning machine. It is fitting, then, that honour goes to Lewis Hamilton, who at the beginning of this season declared, “I’m going to be like a machine this year”. Amongst all of Hamilton’s achievements and accolades, one stands out distinctly. His relentless determination and ability to visit the top step of the podium at least once in every championship season. This focus has kept him competitive, even when his machinery hasn’t been good enough to challenge for the ultimate goal. Very Schumacher-like.
After losing out on pole position to a mighty effort from teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton got off to a good start holding the inside line to the hole-shot. He then understeered into Bottas forcing the Finn off the circuit! But, Bottas, fresh from his Sochi win, kept his foot planted on the gas and swept back onto the inside of Turn 2 and back into the lead. Hamilton praised his teammate’s fighting spirit. “I remember coming out of that corner thinking, ‘good on you man – I’m impressed, that was good’.”
The script, however, flowed differently. A few laps later Bottas’ tyres began to grain, and Hamilton pushed harder, hoping to pressure his teammate into an error. It worked. Bottas suffered a huge lock-up going into Turn 1. Hamilton was quick to pounce on the opportunity and steal P1 again.
Bottas soon retired with an MGU-H issue and now lies 69 points behind, with six races to go. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo inherited a place each to complete the podium. It was a big relief for the Aussie as he held off a charging Sergio Perez, to finally score a podium for Renault in almost two years.
At Parc fermé, current Formula 2 championship leader Mick Schumacher pleasantly surprised Hamilton by presenting him a Mercedes helmet used by his dad, to commemorate the epic milestone.
That moment instantly Polaroided into grand prix folklore. Will Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao throw up more historic moments for F1?