Lewis Hamilton Sets Formula One Wins Record

After growing up watching Michael Schumacher’s triumphs on television, Lewis Hamilton now stands above him and alone in Formula One history with 92 victories.

Hamilton’s win at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday also edged him closer to a seventh Formula One title, the last of Schumacher’s major records left for Hamilton to pursue.

“I could only ever have dreamed of being where I am today,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to take some time to fully sink in. I can’t find the words at the moment.”

On a rainy track in Portugal, he finished about 25 seconds ahead of his Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and 34.5 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his eighth win of another dominant season. He also took an extra point for the fastest lap to extend his huge championship lead to 77 points over Bottas with five races remaining.

The only person to get close to him was his father, with whom he shared a long hug after the race.

Hamilton won his first race in 2007 and claimed his first title the following year. But his career really took off when he replaced the retired Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013. Hamilton added five more Formula One titles.

“I didn’t have a magic ball when I chose to come to this team,” Hamilton said.

His dad, Anthony Hamilton, filmed the post-race scene on his iPad as Hamilton stood on the podium while the crowd cheered him loudly.

“My dad is here which is amazing, my step-mum Linda is here,” an emotional Hamilton said. “I feel very blessed.”

Then it was time for the traditional Champagne spraying, although Verstappen and Bottas had the last word this time, as Verstappen poured the bottle over Hamilton’s head and Bottas sprayed him good-naturedly in the face with his.

Hamilton took a record-extending 97th career pole position, starting ahead of Bottas and Verstappen on a track being used for the first time in Formula One.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. briefly led the race and then Bottas led until Hamilton passed him on Lap 20.

After that, Hamilton coasted to the finish line and into the record books.

The only thing that did trouble him was cramping in his right calf muscle.

“Pretty painful, but I had to somehow get through it,” Hamilton said.

Plenty of mask-wearing fans sat in the stands around the undulating 4.6-kilometer, or about three miles, circuit in Portimao. The track has frequent elevation changes and notably caused drivers problems with grip.

Hamilton made a hesitant start while Bottas was overtaken by Verstappen only to gain the position back and then overtake a surprisingly cautious Hamilton as rain started falling.

“I had a huge oversteer,” Hamilton said. “I backed off massively.”

But Sainz Jr. zoomed up from seventh to first on the quicker soft tires, until Bottas passed him on Lap 6, Hamilton did so on Lap 7 and Verstappen on the next.

Hamilton’s speed advantage was such that he was soon well clear of Bottas, whose rear right tire was graining. He perhaps gambled on Hamilton losing tire grip himself, but the gap was 10 seconds when Hamilton pitted for new tires on Lap 41.

Bottas came in on the following lap and when he came out he was caught in traffic and struggling for rhythm.

The day belonged to Hamilton, and it appears inevitable that his seventh title will follow suit.

After which, the only thing left will be 100 victories on his way to setting another record for titles.

His first win came in Canada, 13 years ago, when driving for McLaren, and the team sportingly sent Hamilton a tweet featuring a bottle of Champagne and the words “You never forget your first.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ head of motorsport, said Hamilton’s achievements will only really sink in after he retires.

“In 10 or 20 years we’re going to acknowledge what a special driver he was,” Wolff said.

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