Much is said about whether Sir Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking success in Formula 1 is down solely to the car he drives or the talent at his disposal.
And while it is true that the Brit has consistently had race-winning machinery in his hands throughout his career, no more so than with the dominant Mercedes in the turbo-hybrid era, there is much more to his historic success in the sport than the car at his feet.
Hamilton, whether you like it or not, is one of the greatest drivers to have ever graced the sport. You see, F1 legends, whether in the modern era or from the sport’s history, follow a similar pattern.
Of course having the car to do the business is key. This was as true of Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda as it is of Hamilton. This is a capitalistic business, where the resources at your disposal matter as much as the ability of the driver.
And Hamilton, for sure, has had some incredible machines to work with. The slick winning operation that Mercedes have built around their talisman over the years has increasingly come to dominate the sport in a way neither they nor Hamilton could have foreseen, to the point where the champion himself has admitted on occasions that it could be boring for the viewing public.
Success at that level often is boring- the constant, drudging push to get further ahead of a pack which has struggled to keep pace. Mercedes have done it best of all, and in doing so have given their driver a car which is so comfortably ahead of the rest as to prompt debate about whether it is even good for the sport.
But the car can only take you so far. After all, again like Hamilton, the Schumachers and Laudas of the world also had teammates to deal with. Talented teammates, who have also worked their way up the ruthless ranks of the motorsport world to get to where they are. And, with some exceptions, Hamilton has consistently managed to stay on top of those rivals.
So why is Hamilton so dominant?
Beyond the car, there is one key metric which has allowed Hamilton to rise to where he has gotten today- his consistency and ability to deal with the pressure where others falter.
The British driver seems to be impervious to the types of faux pas which often claim the (in their own right indubitably gifted) drivers around him. The level of focus which it takes to be a frontrunner is much higher than than required to be the chaser.
The frontrunner that Hamilton has become has everything to lose and nothing more to gain. To keep at the level he has, solidly ahead of both his teammates and the chasing pack, is nothing short of spellbinding.
Few other athletes in any sport have managed that type of consistent success. It is this mental consistency that makes Hamilton stand head and shoulders above the rest.
For evidence of this, you need only to look at his imperious victory at the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020. In sodden conditions, one driver after another led the race as events unfolded.
Firstly Lance Stroll, starting with his maiden F1 pole in the Racing Point, led the first stint of the race before falling off the pace. Then Max Verstappen in the Red Bull took his turn, only to be sent into a spin after an overly ambitious move. And when Hamilton got the lead? He did not look like relinquishing it for a single second.
This is why Hamilton is the best. It is not easy to maintain and build a lead in an F1 race, particularly in conditions like we saw in Istanbul last year which often act as the sport’s great leveller where drivers are much more reliant on their feel for the car and track conditions. So whatever you can say about the car, or the team behind him, the Brit has more than proven his metal at the top of F1.
We can look to the teammates that have come and gone, the would-be competitors who have failed to break his dominance and the sheer consistency of the man for evidence of why he is the dominant force in F1 today- and is likely to remain so until he says otherwise.