Over his 15-year career, which has seen a world record seven world titles, Hamilton has put in some of the greatest on-track performances on his way to becoming one of the greatest drivers of the sport if not the greatest.
Here we look at ten of his finest on-track moments that define him as a legend of the sport.
Germany 2018 – A comeback for the ages
By the time the German Grand Prix came along in 2018, Mercedes‘ Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in an intense title fight with Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel. On top of that, Vettel had a slight edge over Hamilton, given his Ferrari was slightly quicker than the Brit’s Mercedes.
Heading into the German Grand Prix weekend, Hamilton was trailing Vettel by eight points, with the four-time world champion having won at Hamilton’s home track.
Vettel immediately took the advantage at his home track, taking a breathtaking pole on Saturday, and to make matters worse for himself, Hamilton suffered a hydraulics issue in Q2 that saw him qualify a low 14th.
Starting 14th in the rain wasn’t ideal, but Hamilton started off well and was already in top five soon enough. The issue, though, was that at the top, Vettel was driving a clean race from pole and was certain of a victory.
However, on Lap 52, out of the scheduled 67, race leader Vettel locked up and crashed into the barriers, which ruled him out of the race. Hamilton then made the most of the happenings around him and put in a sublime drive. He backed himself to not pit and stay out on older tyres while both his closest rivals, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen, came out on fresher tyres.
Hamilton not only drove a stunning wet weather race but also managed his tyres to perfection to take a stunning victory at the home of his championship rival.
Starting P14, not many would have given Hamilton much — or any — chance to win, but the Brit showcased his talent and wet-weather experience to take a win that turned the title fight in his momentum, and from that race onwards, there was no looking back for him.
Till date, the 2018 German Grand Prix win remains Hamilton’s only win after starting outside P10 on the grid.
Also Read – Top 10: Greatest Kimi Räikkönen on-track moments
Singapore 2018 – A qualifying to remember
Ferrari once again had the quicker car going into the Singapore weekend in 2018. Hamilton had a shocking start to qualifying, barely scraping through to Q2; he was P4 in Q2, with the Ferrari of Räikkönen leading the timing charts.
Heading into the top ten shootout, all bets were mainly on Ferrari to take pole that evening. Räikkönen gave Ferrari the early advantage with a provisional pole of 1:37.403s, which seemed like a competitive time.
That was the case, until Hamilton got his first banker lap in.
Out of nowhere, Hamilton found pace in his Mercedes, pushing it to the limit and driving its wheels off to take a mesmerising pole with a timing of 1:36.015s. Ferrari threw everything at him in the second runs too, and so did Red Bull with Max Verstappen, but in the end, Verstappen came closest with a 1:36.334, more than three-tenths down on Hamilton.
That evening, under the blinding lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, it was Lewis Hamilton who shone the brightest.
Turkey 2020 – In a league of his own
A rescheduled COVID calendar meant Formula One returned to Istanbul for the first time since 2011. Coming to a new surface, Mercedes just did not have any pace throughout the weekend, neither could they find any. What made matters worse, was that it started to rain, and a wet qualifying affected Mercedes even more, with Hamilton qualifying a lowly P6, more than five seconds behind the pole-sitter.
Come race day, Hamilton was optimistic, but he had no right to win.
The two Racing Points got off well, and a slow-starting Red Bull of Max Verstappen meant Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made the most of the rain-affected start.
A melee at the start saw both the Renaults collide with each other and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas spin off. Amidst all the chaos, Hamilton made the most of others’ misfortunes to squeeze into the top four.
After making his first stop on Lap 8, Hamilton put in a measure drive, attacking to perfection and knowing when to back off on a wet track. As the cars came in for a second pit stop, Hamilton stayed out and managed his tyres to perfection to hold off any threat from Vettel or Sergio Pérez and built a comfortable gap by the end to win by more than 30 seconds.
Pérez later spoke about how his tyres would have exploded had he done another lap, while others complained about tyre wear issues. On a day where everyone slid and spun around on a wet track, Lewis Hamilton showcased why he is one of the greats of the sport.
Putting in a sublime wet-weather drive, Hamilton made the most of the chaos around him to take his 94th career victory, which also secured him that season’s championship title and put him on par with Michael Schumacher with seven world titles each.
Also Read – Top 10: Greatest Michael Schumacher Moments
Britain 2008 – A star is born
After missing out on his first world title by a whisker in his rookie season, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to let anything come in his way in 2008.
The young Brit came into the British Grand Prix sitting third in the championship battle behind both the Ferraris. Hamilton’s teammate, Heikki Kovalainen, started on pole, with the young Brit starting on the second row from P4.
Under the worst conditions, the race got underway on a wet track in Silverstone. Hamilton got the best start of the top four and took the lead into the main straight but was squeezed by Kovalainen, which meant Hamilton settled for second place for the moment, ahead of Räikkönen in third place.
On Lap 5, Hamilton swept past Kovalainen on Stowe and zoomed into the distance. As the likes of Mark Webber, Felipe Massa spun trying to keep their cars on the wet track, Hamilton built up a six-second gap to Kovalainen by Lap 10.
Kovalainen spun, which allowed Räikkönen to attack Hamilton, and as the track began to dry up, the Finn began to gain on the Brit.
Hamilton maintained his lead and both cars came into the pits on Lap 21 as the Brit managed to hold on to his position, although his lead now had been cut down drastically. Ferrari, though, gambled and only refuelled Räikkönen’s car without changing his tyres, which proved to be costly when the rain returned a couple of laps later and Räikkönen had to box again for a new set.
As Räikkönen rejoined further down the grid, Hamilton sped away in a league of his own with no one near him. The rain got worse, and five cars retired after spinning off the track, with Hamilton’s teammate and pole sitter Kovalainen himself struggling for grip and pace as he languished down in sixth.
As the rest of the field struggled to keep their cars on the track, Hamilton was driving on another level and took the win by a whopping sixty-eight seconds. Such was the pace he had that afternoon that he lapped fourth-place Kimi Räikkönen.
It wasn’t all pace that afternoon, though: it was the perfect mix of pace and skilful driving that saw Hamilton take the chequered flag.
Hungary 2013 – Underway with Mercedes
2013 was the prime dominance of Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel. Such was his dominance, that Vettel had scored more points than second-place Mercedes in the Constructors’ that season.
There was nothing close to the German that year, and no one could get close either, except Lewis Hamilton, who managed to take a stunning first victory for Mercedes in Hungary.
Heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, one would have been forgiven if they chose Vettel and Red Bull as favourites for the win. Vettel entered the race with a 34-point lead over second-place Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull had already built up a 67-point lead over Mercedes by the ninth race of the season.
After edging out Vettel for pole, Hamilton put in an error-free drive on Sunday. He pitted from the lead first and managed his tyres to perfection on a hot track. After rejoining the traffic, Hamilton wasted no time in clearing those in front on him, while his rivals — Vettel, Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean — struggled to do the same.
By the time he got done with his second stop, Hamilton was well clear of Räikkönen in second place and took a comfortable first win with Mercedes, winning by more than 10 seconds.
Also Read – The Return of Fernando Alonso
Monaco 2019 – Embodying the spirit of Lauda
The Monaco weekend in 2019 was one of the toughest ones Mercedes had faced. They had just received the tragic news that their team mentor and friend, Niki Lauda, had passed away.
Even though there was grief and pain, Hamilton showcased true composure and class that weekend.
After taking a brilliant pole, Hamilton knew all he had to do was keep it on the track and he would be the favourite, given how notoriously difficult it is to pass in Monaco.
After pitting early under the Safety Car, Hamilton was on the softer medium compound tyres compared to Verstappen and Vettel’s hard compounds, who were behind him. Hamilton knew both the Red Bull and Ferrari cars had enough pace, and if he pitted, there was no way he could win the race.
What followed was a masterclass in tyre management: Hamilton pushed his car just to the limit knowing how much he could wear out his tyres and did an incredible 64 laps on his medium compound tyres. Even though Verstappen and Vettel threw everything at him, Hamilton showed enough resilience and grit to pull his car across the line first, taking his 77th career victory.
Following the race, Hamilton dedicated the win to the late Lauda and mentioned that it was one of the hardest races of his career.
Bahrain 2014 – Desert Duel with the teammate
The 2014 season was reminiscent of the 2013 Red Bull dominance, except it was Mercedes’ turn to dominate this time. Coming into the Bahrain Grand Prix, it was Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, who led the championship and took pole, and was a certain favourite to win in Sakhir that weekend given his pace.
Hamilton, though, wasn’t having any of that. Right from the start, he attacked Rosberg to take the lead going into the first corner, and even though Rosberg tried to retake the lead, Hamilton placed his car in just the right positions to defend beautifully and hold onto his lead.
Over the next 57 laps, Rosberg and Hamilton were engaged in an epic duel that saw Rosberg attack Hamilton with everything he had; he even had the rubber soft compound tyres towards the end of the race to throw a challenge at Hamilton. The Brit, though, drove a sublime race from start to finish and cut into Rosberg’s championship win with a thrilling victory in Bahrain.
USA 2012 – Starting well by ending well
Hamilton’s win at the 2012 United States Grand Prix was his final victory with the McLaren team, but what made it all the more special was the fact that it was his first win on a new track in the inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel dominated all the practice sessions and took a fine pole on Saturday to give the Austrian team the edge over McLaren. Hamilton, though, made sure that he was in the fight, qualifying a strong P2.
The Brit had a horror start and was passed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber in the opening lap. Hamilton, though, fought back to retake second place on Lap 4, leaving behind the second Red Bull. Vettel, then, began to build a comfortable lead on Hamilton and even rejoined in the lead after his first stop.
Vettel held his lead over Hamilton and it looked like the German was romping to victory, but that was until Hamilton got the slightest of chances.
On Lap 42, Vettel lost his momentum as he was passing the backmarkers, which allowed Hamilton, who was right on Vettel’s tail, to sweep past him on the back straight to take the lead of the race. Although Vettel charged back and came agonisingly close, Hamilton held on for a thrilling victory.
Germany 2011 – Taking on the Big Guns
McLaren had no answer to Ferrari and Red Bull’s pace on Friday, so much so that Hamilton himself admitted that it was going to be difficult to find any pace and qualifying on pole would be unlikely.
What Hamilton didn’t count on, though, was his own supreme form. The Brit put in a stunning Q3 lap to start on the front row, ahead of the much quicker Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, both of whom had topped the practice sessions.
Hamilton got off the line well and took the lead from Webber right at the start. It was beginning to look like he would run away with it, until a slight error on Lap 12 saw Webber capitalise and retake the lead. The McLaren driver, though, wasn’t letting go of such an opportunity, and retook the lead as he blasted past the Red Bull driver into Turn 1.
Webber, though, stopped before Hamilton, and this meant by the time the Brit came in, he had lost his lead. At the second set of pit stops, Webber once again came in first, but this time it was Hamilton who came out in front after his pit stop. The battle became even more interesting when Alonso got into the mix and gave Hamilton another car to overtake in his bid for the win.
Hamilton took the lead from Alonso and after his third pit stop had already built a gap to the Spaniard, which he used to full advantage to pull away for the victory. Hamilton won comfortably from Alonso and showed the world that even without the best machinery on the grid, he could use his strategy and skill to pass the rest on track to the top.
Italy 2018 – Spoiling the Tifosi party
Ferrari’s pace in Italy that weekend had a race win written all over it. After taking a stunning pole, Kimi Räikkönen had put the home team in the front seat, and with a 1-2, there really should have been no chance for any other team to win.
But just when you throw an impossible challenge to Hamilton, that is when he rises to the occasion and showcases why he is the best in the business.
Starting on the second row (P3), Hamilton tried to attack Vettel going into the second chicane and caught him off-guard, with the German focusing on his teammate in front. Vettel under steered into Hamilton and spun, but the Brit luckily escaped the collision without major damage.
Hamilton then was left alone to charge at Räikkönen for the lead. The two exchanged blows right from the start, and Hamilton took the lead on Lap 4 on the main straight, but Räikkönen regained it in the same lap a couple of corners later.
Räikkönen pitted first, but Hamilton put in some stunning laps. After he pit, the Brit rejoined just a couple of seconds behind Räikkönen.
With Vettel out of the picture, the Finn had to fend off the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton along with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. In doing so, Räikkönen wore out his tyres from the constant pressure, and with nine laps to go, Hamilton put in a brave move on the outside on the main straight and braked late to squeeze out Räikkönen to take the lead. The Brit then managed to maintain his lead and drove home to a comfortable eight-and-a-half-second victory.
Once again, even though he didn’t have the fastest car on the grid that day, Hamilton used strategy and his own brilliance to perfection to take a stunning victory.