The 2021 Formula 1 season has seen Lewis Hamilton reach the 100 mark in terms of pole positions and race victories within the series. This has inevitably led to some, as is often the case with record breakers, that seeing such figures reached or surpassed in the future is unlikely to happen.
It certainly seems unlikely considering that Hamilton has been claiming pole positions and race victories from his very first season in Formula 1 onwards. Other factors that have helped the Briton reach these sorts of figures include racing for a team in Mercedes who have dominated the sport from 2014 all the way through to 2020.
Added to the Mercedes domination has been that Formula 1 has regularly held around 20 Grand Prix a season, excluding last season. If you were to take an average of 20 races a season from 2014 to the end of 2019, that would give someone like Hamilton 120 opportunities to secure pole position and/or a race victory during a Grand Prix weekend.
What perhaps makes it feel like Hamilton’s figures won’t be reached is the new dawn of the cost cap and sliding scale for windtunnel runs and CFD testing on the teams competing in Formula 1. This in theory makes it even more difficult for a team to dominate in the way that Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren have done over the last 30 to 40 years.
Yet despite the challenge any driver in the future faces to surpass Hamilton’s records, it isn’t impossible. They would either need to do a Michael Schumacher of getting the right people, in the right team, at the right time such as the German achieved at Ferrari between 1996 and 2006.
Or a future driver would need Fangio/Hamilton levels of being able to accurately judge when is the right moment to move to a new team. This when you remember that Fangio won his five titles driving for four different teams. Similarly Hamilton, whether through luck or foresight, judged his move from McLaren to Mercedes pretty much exactly the right time which has meant that amongst many other records, the Briton is one of only a few to have won at least one Grand Prix in every season he has competed in Formula 1.Embed from Getty Images
What is perhaps more daunting and ominous for future generation of drivers is that Hamilton isn’t finished as he will continue racing in Formula 1 beyond 2021. This will give the Briton more opportunities to improve his number of pole positions and race victories, assuming Mercedes produce a competitive car straightaway for the 2022 technical regulations.
It is sometimes a cliché to state that a recently broken record won’t be beaten, certainly not in one’s own lifetime. Yet some have seen Michael Schumacher shatter records for pole positions, race victories and world championships, only to see Hamilton reach and surpass Schumacher’s numbers within 15 years.
Perhaps this time it is correct to say that it will take longer, and will be harder, for a driver in the future to match and surpass Hamilton’s numbers. But it’s not impossible, as much as Hamilton immediately got to work in 2007 in breaking Schumacher’s records, who is to say that someone such as Verstappen isn’t doing likewise in the sport already.