When lewis hamilton fell in love with the site of his historic triumph, he was moved to think of michael schumacher as well.
"I will always have the utmost admiration and respect, it is a true honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as you," the 35-year-old briton affirmed.
Hamilton is the sole grand prix winning baton as of sunday. The mark of schumacher’s seven world championship miracles can already be set in the next race in three weeks in turkey. "Every race feels like the first," hamilton said in portimao. His first was on 18. March 2007 in melbourne, australia. On the 10. June of the same year, the first victory followed in montreal, canada, 4856 days later the 92nd victory. At the grand prix of portugal.
The competition bows down. "I told him before the race to go for the 92," reported sebastian vettel, a 53-time grand prix winner and third on the all-time best list. No envy, no jealousy, although he too could have been the one to set the best marks of his idol and friend schumacher, long thought unattainable.
Vettel, however, was drawn to ferrari after the four world championship titles with red bull in 2015, vettel wanted the ultimate crown in the red race car – and failed. Hamilton bets on the silver arrows after his first world championship win in 2008 with mclaren – and comes away with the victory. "Mister perfect," wrote the swiss "blick" magazine. The british "guardian" sees an "athlete at the peak of his powers.
Many would argue that it is easy to have these successes with a car like this, said vettel, referring to hamilton and his undisputedly superior mercedes. But you can’t praise the performance enough," vettel also said.
Driver and car always form a symbiosis. Hamilton and mercedes pushed this to perfection. "That’s almost a surreal number of victories," commented team boss toto wolff. The 48-year-old viennese is the godfather of the unbelievable series of successes. He liked hamilton to come into his own first, accepting the brit’s initial moods and aversion to simulator test drives.
Wolff molded the immigrant’s son into a thoroughly feisty sports superstar who wants to be a role model, a champion and a role stick far beyond the horsepower circus. "I don’t know where i’ll be celebrating today, because we’re living like hermits at the moment, but i’m flying home to see my wife and son," wolff said after his pilot’s record-breaking run. "I am sure that we will have a drink or two at dinner."
The champagne for mercedes’ possible seventh constructor’s title in a row can be chilled as early as next weekend. Emotions are pre-programmed: the race will be held in imola, on the track where ayrton senna lost his life in a terrible accident in 1994 on a weekend of deep darkness for formula 1. Hamilton knows that, they all know that.
Hamilton, who won eight of the previous twelve races in the improvised corona-nots season and also wanted to have dog roscoe on the winning photo with the team in portugal, will also start in imola as the rough favorite. He will not be able to win the driver’s title there, but he will be able to do so two weeks later in istanbul. Currently he leads with 77 points ahead of teammate valtteri bottas, who coincidentally has the number 77, and with 94 points ahead of max verstappen.
The dutchman’s hopes of wresting the title of youngest formula 1 world champion from vettel have given way to disillusionment at hamilton’s ruthlessness. "92 victories and that’s not the end of it. He will come over 100. I guess I’ll have to drive until I’m 40 or so," commented the 23-year-old from red bull.
Hamilton is still open about how long he intends to stay in the motorsport kingpin at the formula 1 premiere in portimao. He still has not signed a new contract. Next year he wants to be there again, that’s his plan. He doesn’t get more specific than that.
In 2021, he could reach triple digits at the latest: he already has 97 poles, plus 92 wins. Title number seven is only a matter of time. "I don’t believe in the saying: the sky is the limit," said hamilton. In terms of formula 1, he is the limit.