Lewis Hamilton has won a fifth world championship, matching Juan Manuel Fangio and is now within two of Michael Schumacher’s record
Here, we take a closer look at the drivers in whose company Hamilton finds himself.
Juan Manuel Fangio
Fangio was among Formula One’s founding fathers, competing in the 1950s when death was synonymous with the sport.
Considered by many as the greatest of all time, Fangio, known as El Maestro, won five championships in just six seasons.
A feather in his cap was that he uniquely won those titles with four different constructors: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati.
His team-mate, Sir Stirling Moss, still says he is the best driver ever.
Before the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton described the Argentinian – who died in 1995 – as F1’s godfather. His record of five championships stood for nearly half a century.
The German won seven championships, two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and then an unprecedented five on the spin for Ferrari at the turn of the century.
A controversial driver, he collided with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve at the 1994 and 1997 championship deciders, before he deliberately parked his Ferrari at Monaco in 2006 to prevent Fernando Alonso from setting a lap in qualifying.
He galvanised Ferrari following his move from Benetton, and his total of 91 victories is 20 greater than any driver, with Hamilton next on the list.
Little is known of Schumacher’s current medical health following a skiing crash on holiday with his family in the French Alps in 2013.
Lewis Hamilton will celebrate winning the world championship with his dogs in Los Angeles, the triumphant Briton revealed on Sunday night.
Hamilton made hard work of the fifth title that draws him level with Juan Manuel Fangio, and just two short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, after a nervous Mexican Grand Prix.
The Mercedes star, 33, started well but he was passed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and then ran off the road while battling for position with the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
But Hamilton took the chequered flag in fourth to secure the championship with two rounds to spare.
The Englishman performed a series of celebratory doughnuts in his Mercedes for the 40,000-strong crowd in the former baseball stadium section of this unique Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue, before standing on top of the car to salute them.
Vettel, who finished second behind winner Max Verstappen, then sportingly broke away from his post-race television interview to embrace Hamilton.
“Right now, it just doesn’t feel real,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I am going to wake up in a matter of moments.”
Asked how he intended to celebrate his triumph, Hamilton replied: “It is going to sound really boring, but I just feel content and really happy, so I am looking forward to going to sleep.
“Tonight, I will leave this beautiful country, and I am looking forward to seeing my dogs, Roscoe and Coco, who live in LA. The unconditional love of a pet is something quite special.
“I have a lot of friends around me, so I am sure we will come together and embrace this moment.”
Hamilton’s victory parade will now begin in Brazil, a week on Sunday.
While the race here may not have gone to script for Hamilton, Vettel has been unable to live with his rival during the second half of a spellbinding campaign by the Mercedes man.
Vettel delivered his best drive since the summer break on Sunday, but it was a case of too little, too late for the German, whose championship challenge has been defined by a series of mistakes.
“Lewis drove superbly all year, and he was the better one of us two,” said Vettel, who visited the Mercedes’ nerve centre in the paddock to congratulate the team following Hamilton’s triumph.
“Number five is something incredible so I told him to enjoy it, and keep pushing as I need him to be at his best for us to keep fighting again next year.
“It is a horrible moment for me. Three times in my life I have had that disappointment when you realise you can’t win the championship anymore and they are not happy days.
“We reflect on not one moment, but the whole of the year. We had our chances, but in the end we were not good enough.”
In a life where they say anything is possible with hard work and a bit of luck, Lewis Hamilton has cemented his status as one of the greatest drivers of all time after clinching his fifth world title at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday.
From a small council house in Stevenage to a fortune worth more £170 million is a leap beyond imagination and even the Briton has to pinch himself at times to realise how far life has taken him.
The Mercedes driver is now level with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio on championship wins. Only Michael Schumacher with seven crowns is a cut above.
And with two years remaining on his current Mercedes contract, the 33-year-old’s chances of matching the legendary German remains all the more possible after his latest triumph.
But aside from the world championship victories, Hamilton has already surpassed the German’s previous pole record of 68, with 81 to his name – but is still 19 race wins behind Schumacher who leads the way on a stunning 91. However, if Mercedes continues its domination, Hamilton could well reach that feat by the age of 35.
Whereas some sports stars desire fades after continued success, the imperious Hamilton appears to have become stronger with every passing season.
Each era of sport will have different heroes and legends, but Hamilton has proven time and again his ability to drive to the maximum potential and eek every millisecond out of a track when it really counts.
In the 18 races so far this campaign, the Stevenage native has stormed to pole position on nine occasions and looks a genuine cut above the rest of the field when it comes to pace and precision over one lap.
Of course there is more to greatness than just numbers. In the racing world, greatness means love from the fans.
Ayrton Senna was a three-time champion and adored by the entire Formula One public. Not just because he was ridiculously skilled behind the wheel, but because of the way he carried himself on and off the track.
While no other driver has tasted as much success as Schumacher, he was never liked the way Senna was.
The same goes for Hamilton. Perhaps one of the most significant problems with the Brit is people’s perception of him.
He rubs shoulders with superstar athletes and musicians, attends fashion events and has a clear addiction to social media. But for all the criticism he faces, he still backs it up with titanic performances on race day.
In the build up to Singapore Grand Prix last month, he was heavily criticised for his 25,000 air miles clocked in the days before the race, flying to Shanghai and New York for the launch of his fashion collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.
Many thought the gruelling schedule, coupled with the jet lag, would impact negatively on his displays at Marina Bay Street Circuit. Once again, he proved the doubters wrong with a sizzling victory to stretch the gap in the championship race to 40 points.
For all the negativity, maybe it’s his interests off the track that have made him a more formidable driver over the years. While others on the grid are immersed solely in F1, Hamilton has fashion, music and his sponsorship commitments to focus on and take his mind off the pressures of life on the track.
At the end of the day, not everyone is going to like you no matter who you are. Hamilton is a human being before a sports star and should be judged solely on his results and his performances, instead of his endeavors and interests away from it.
Still, enthusiasts of the sport are lucky to be able to watch such a stellar British talent excel on the world stage. Maybe it’s only going to be something we realise once he does retire.
His latest world championship triumph caps off another remarkable season, but one that disappoints in some aspects with title rival Vettel unable to maintain any form of momentum in the championship race.
If Vettel is to prevent Hamilton’s march to matching Schumacher’s record over the next two seasons, he will have to erase the inconsistencies which have plagued his previous two campaigns.
He has the pacey car, the skill, the confidence and the experience of winning four world titles, but he was a clear fading force again for the second half of the season, and needs to cut out errors on the track if he is to stand any chance of making the title race competitive in 2019.
Whatever happens between now and the end of Hamilton’s contract in two years, nobody would deny him a place among the Pantheon of all-time greats.