Whether he’s partying on a yacht off the coast of Monaco or mixing it with celebrities along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Lewis Hamilton lives a life most of us can only dream of.
From a small council house in Stevenage to a fortune worth more £200 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 34-year-old secured his sixth world title last month to put himself within one championship of the icon Michael Schumacher, and just seven race wins short of matching the German’s glittering record of 91 career triumphs.
With young stars like Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen emerging as the future of Formula One, the current era still very much belongs to Hamilton who stands above his peers both on and off the track.
Outside the Mercedes team villa at Yas Marina Circuit, there is a constant snap of cameras and people lined up along the paddock to grab a glimpse of F1’s prized asset.
It might only take him ten seconds to get from the villa to back of the garage, but people will wait patiently for hours to see one of the greats.
After celebrating his 11th win of the season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Hamilton will head off into the holidays delighted with his year and sixth world crown. Another place in history achieved.
He will celebrate his 35th birthday in January, then set his sights on matching Schumacher’s record, convinced his skills and motivation are yet to peak.
In his 13 years competing in Formula One, he has been in a class alone, a driver at the pinnacle of his game who believes the best is yet to come.
Whereas some sports stars desire fades after continued success, the imperious Hamilton appears to have become stronger with every passing season.
Hamilton’s boss Toto Wolff said it was his ability to self-analyse and constantly improve that has helped him to become a better man out of the car and a better man in it.
Others believe it’s his mental control that sets him from apart from the competition. At this elite level, you have to have a mental control to block out the pressures and directions of life in general. Hamilton has blocked it out and performed when necessary.
The Monaco resident won the championship last season with a stellar year, winning 11 grands prix and securing 11 pole positions. He achieved a level of excellence rarely seen in Formula One, making few errors on the track.
This season, he has also won 11 times, but has only been on pole five times, the same as his team-mate Valtteri Bottas who is enjoying his best ever season, with four victories and 11 podiums.
But to underline the gulf in class, Hamilton still finished a commanding ** points ahead of Bottas in second.
He has yet again proven to have the edge over a struggling Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion who finished second to the Brit in 2017 and 2019, and could only manage fifth in the drivers’ standings this campaign.
Hamilton has found a way to win despite Mercedes not always having the quickest, or the best, overall car, and Ferrari and Red Bull posing robust challenges.
Other drivers said Hamilton was able to push the limits of what is possible in a car. He is like the messiah with no fear.
With six consecutive constructors’ championships, the Mercedes is the dominant car on track and their strength in depth, experience and clinical efficiency is a step above.
Of course, the Red Bull and Ferrari are making great strides, but it may not be enough to stop Hamilton and the Silver Arrow from winning a seventh crown in 2020.
For all Hamilton’s stardom, the debate of F1’s greatest driver of all time has no clear answer. Schumacher is statistically the greatest but the conversation will and should extend beyond that until it is beaten.
Comparing drivers in different eras is nearly impossible, with many pundits and enthusiasts believing Hamilton is in a league of his own because of most often relying on himself to fend off stiff competition rather than team-mates being restricted to team orders.
His 11th win of the season in Abu Dhabi caps off another remarkable campaign, and whatever happens now, nothing can deny him a place as being the greatest drivers of all-time.
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