(Motorsport-Total.com) – Lewis Hamilton has always downplayed the importance of the record for himself. 91 is also just a number, and “I’m not someone who cares about records” was his standard answer to questions about the big moment when he would catch up with Michael Schumacher one day.
Now that it has happened, with the victory at the Grand Prix of the Eifel at the Nürburgring, on a track where one corner is called Michael-Schumacher-S, everything is a little different. “This is not just any victory,” admits the soon-to-be seven-time Formula 1 world champion. Visibly moved.
From the outside, one had the impression that it meant a bit more to him when he caught up with his great idol Ayrton Senna in Montreal in 2017 with his 65th pole. Back then, too, there was a helmet as recognition. Nevertheless, there were moving images when Mick Schumacher of all people presented him with his father’s helmet.
After the milestone in his career, Hamilton first attended the award ceremony, then a few TV interviews and then the FIA press conference. He’s now one of the greatest sports icons of all time. When he sat down in front of a laptop shortly after 6 p.m. to discuss the race with a few journalists via a zoom meeting, he had already processed the first emotions.
Significance of the record not yet realized
“In this hour or so, since the race ended, I’ve really tried to think and realize what we’ve actually achieved, what I’ve achieved,” he says. “In the next few days it will definitely get stuck in my head. But right now I still find it difficult to find the right words and to process it all.”
It is definitely a special victory, admits the 35-year-old. “A special one.” And that was meant honestly. Hamilton called his father Anthony and stepmother Linda immediately after the race to recognize the moment and to thank them for their support over the years. “Lots of emotions today,” he stammered.
When he was young, a little toddler with a go-kart from sleepy Stevenage in north London, he would never have dreamed of such a world career. He has always admired stars like Schumacher: “Not just for their quality as drivers, but because they were successful every year, race after race, week after week – together with their team.”
“I still remember playing a computer game as Michael. I think it was Grand Prix 2,” grins Hamilton. “He’s been so dominant for such a long time and I don’t think anyone could have imagined ever getting anywhere near Michael’s records. Especially not me.”
Even in the greatest triumph: his team never forgets Hamilton
“It will take a while before I really understand that. I only realized that I had now made it when I drove to the Parc Ferme after the race. I hadn’t really processed it yet,” says Hamilton and emphasizes the statement: “Without this incredible team, I would never have made it.”
“I don’t know how other drivers feel when they celebrate such victories. But it always takes a while for me to process it and to realize what that actually means,” he admits. “My first big dream was to do the same as Ayrton. But Michael was still so far away back then.”
Hamilton’s statistics are now difficult to classify. He now has 91 victories from 261 grands prix. Schumacher ended his career after 306 races. In pole positions, he has long overtaken the Ferrari legend (96:68). Also with the podium places (160: 155). And the 35-year-old isn’t finished yet. (Schumacher vs. Hamilton: To the statistics comparison!)
“It is beyond my wildest dreams to sit here and be level with Michael. At this moment I am humble and grateful for the opportunity Mercedes has given me, and I am very proud that I am allowed to represent the brand and I am I got them this record. Hopefully we’ll break more records! Then it was a good investment for them. “
New contract is really expensive for Mercedes …
A winking remark with a serious ulterior motive, because Hamilton has not yet signed a contract for 2021. The timing for his record victory, of all places in the home of Mercedes, could not have been better. Even Daimler CEO Ola Källenius was at the Nürburgring. Hamilton’s next deal could be really expensive.
Schumacher, says Hamilton, was “an icon of this sport”: “He achieved so much in so many areas. But above all, he pushed the boundaries in the physical area. He was a pioneer in always being the fittest driver of his time and what he has achieved with the teams he has driven for, especially Ferrari, is nothing short of remarkable. “
91 victories in Formula 1 is a number that is hard to grasp for ordinary people. “That’s four and a half seasons in which he wins every race, if you will,” says Daniel Ricciardo in amazement. “That puts the whole thing in perspective.” And Max Verstappen also says: “It will be hard to beat one day.”
“That number is so big,” Hamilton wonders about himself. “I can imagine that many do not understand how difficult it must have been for Michael to achieve those 91 victories, to achieve his best weekend after weekend, year for years, and always staying so fit and precise. That becomes more and more clear to me the older I get. “
“All I can say is that it won’t get any easier. From the first win to the 91st, it’s a long, hard road,” said Hamilton. “I have great drivers around me. Daniel drove fantastic today, Max too. He put so much pressure on. But Michael will always be a legend. I am very flattered that they have now honored me with one of his helmets. “