Lewis Hamilton says it will take him time to come to terms with the momentous achievement that came with winning Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix – equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of Formula 1 victories.
“It’s definitely not just another win,” the Mercedes driver said, as he sat down for his final media engagement of the day, after finishing his debrief with his team.”I’m really just over this past hour or so trying to contemplate and realise what it is we have done and what I have been able to achieve. And I would say for the next couple of days that is where my mind is going to be. “Just wow. It is hard to find the right words and be able to compute exactly, but it is definitely a special one.”
Hamilton’s 91st career victory equalled a record some felt might never be broken. He will move well beyond it before this season is over.
He is also now not very many races at all away from equalling another – Schumacher’s equally monumental accomplishment, of seven world championships. Hamilton’s victory at the Nurburgring put him 69 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with just 156 still available.
As Hamilton spoke on Sunday, he tried to explain what it all meant to him at the same time as trying to make sense of it for himself.
He spoke of being “humbled” by the moment, “proud” of the work he had done with Mercedes these last eight years, and the “honour” he felt at being presented with one of Schumacher’s old helmets by the German’s son Mick, himself poised to enter F1 before long.
Hamilton described Michael Schumacher as “an icon and a legend of the sport”. He reflected on the “journey” that had got him to where he is, and the people who had helped him along the way – particularly his father, Anthony, and Mercedes and McLaren, who backed him from the age of 13, long before it was clear he could become what he has.
It was left to the two men on the podium with him at the end of the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, to put some meaning to Hamilton’s achievement.
“Ninety-one wins – everyone thought that was almost impossible to reach,” Verstappen said. “So to be there now is incredible and I am pretty sure there will be some more victories coming his way and probably also championships. Just very impressive. And hard to beat.”
“Tip of the hat, at the very least,” Ricciardo said. “Ninety-one races is nearly five years’ worth of races. That gives perspective on how much success Lewis has now had. Michael as well.
“To do it week in, week out as well, and year on year – his career has been well over a decade – and to keep coming back and to show that level of consistency at the front is not easy.
“We understand that. You can have the package and car to do it but doing it every weekend when the lights go out is easier said than done. So, big respect.”