ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Lewis Hamilton was hailed as “the greatest driver of the era” yesterday after securing a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title by winning the Turkish Grand Prix.
After a momentous drive from sixth on the grid in wet and treacherous conditions, the Briton matched Michael Schumacher’s haul of drivers crowns with three races of the season remaining.
The 35-year-old sealed his latest title 12 years after his first with a typically measured masterclass, handling the slippy early conditions to claim his 94th career win.
It was widely declared as one of his finest triumphs and entirely appropriate on the day he drew alongside the German in the record books.
“That’s for all the kids out there that believe in the impossible,” said an emotional Hamilton on Mercedes’ team radio. “You can do it.”
Later he claimed he still had the hunger for more titles and paid tribute to his team and fans after a season in which he led his sport in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started. Physically, I’m in great shape. And mentally this year has been really hard for millions of people and it’s no different for us athletes,” he said.
“This has been a challenge that I didn’t know how to get through, but with the help of Team LH I managed to get through.”
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who was third in his Ferrari, hailed Hamilton for his achievement.
“He is the greatest of our era for sure,” said the German.
“To me certainly, emotionally, Michael will always be the greatest driver, but there’s no doubt Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved.
“He’s equalled the championships, he has more races won, he has a lot more pole positions. I think he’s done everything you can ask for.”
Hamilton, who sealed his first title in 2008, added to his unprecedented roster of records — most wins with 94, most pole positions (97), most podium finishes (163) and most consecutive points finishes (47).
He added: “We dreamed of this when I was young.
“I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard.
“Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can do together, me and this team.”