Who is the “GOAT” of F1?
By George Ferreira
GOAT no not the animal, stand for the greatest of all time and whichever sport you look at the GOAT debate/conversation is fierce amongst fans and pundits. In football the debate is between Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Pele and Maradona most of the time, in basketball the debate is between Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. For the longest time in F1 the debate was mainly between Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna however that all change when a rookie British driver began his career in F1 way back in 2007 and became world champion in his second year and has 7 world championships, trying to win a record-breaking 8th championship along with breaking various other records along the way. That driver is Lewis Hamilton who has firmly and deservedly so been added to the GOAT conversation of F1 but who is the F1 GOAT? Well, this article will throw its hat in the ring and suggest why Lewis Hamilton is the greatest of all time in F1, now warning this Article is my opinion and that is what is great about the GOAT conversation everyone has their own opinion.
The big argument most people tend to make when discussing this topic is how many championships did an athlete win during his career. Well Lewis Hamilton is currently tied at 7 championships with Michael Schumacher the most in F1 history and by time his Mercedes Contract is up in 2024 he could have won 8-10 championships in total. Ayrton Senna won 3 championships in his career, now it can be argued that when Senna was driving F1 was harder than it is now with more drivers that wanted to win however the main argument here is that Senna passed away in 1994 well before he would even consider retiring meaning we will never know how many more championships he could have won.
It is the same when looking at records, starting with F1 wins where Senna has 41, Michael Schumacher has 91 and Lewis Hamilton holding the record for most wins with 102 (and counting). Hamilton also holds the record for the most pole positions with 102, followed by Schumacher with 68 and Senna in 65. It is the same story with podium finishes with Hamilton holding the record with 180, Schumacher in second with 155 and it is also the same with total races finished in the points as again we see Hamilton holding the record with 247 races and Schumacher with 221. When looking at championships and records held Lewis Hamilton is clear of Senna and Schumacher with the potential for him to increase his numbers and break further records.
Another argument people have in the discussion of the greatest of all time is longevity and longevity at the top meaning for how long athletes were the most successful in their sports. Looking at longevity we see that Michael Schumacher had a 17-year career in F1 with a four-year break between his two stints. With Senna he only had a 5-year career in F1 before his death but those were 5 years where he was at his best or in his prime as some people would say. Lewis Hamilton has been in F1 for 14 years and by the time his contract finishes he will have driven in F1 for 17 seasons. Michael Schumacher really hit his prime at Ferrari where from 2000 to 2004 he won the world championship in each season totalling 5 years in his prime. With the argument that Senna was in his prime during his whole F1 career that is also 5 years. Lewis Hamilton is arguably still in his prime which started in 2014 where he won his second championship and up till last season where he made it 6 championships since 2014, however Hamilton is still battling for a title this season and regardless of win or lose he is not leaving F1 yet whereas Schumacher left after failing to beat Fernando Alonso for the 2005 championship. It seems as though looking at longevity and the time at the top of F1 Hamilton comes out on top again.
Finally, I would like to say why in my personal opinion Hamilton is the GOAT of F1. I decided on Hamilton because yes he is a proven winner and record breaker and all-round great driver who can turn a bad weekend into a great race finish like we saw at the Brazil 2021 grand prix, I chose him because of how he uses the platform he has to send messages and try and make a change outside of F1. Last year with no fans able to attend F1 races Hamilton was one of few drivers who wore a Black Lives Matters t-shirt he even wore the shirt after winning a race and being told not to wear it. With this message Mercedes decided to change their livery from silver to black to show support to the cause. Recently in the Qatar 2021 Grand Prix, Hamilton decided to wear a helmet with the LGBT flag on it to spread awareness in a country where if people are not heterosexual they can be imprisoned or worse can be killed. The final thing that Hamilton has set up is a great charity that funds and encourages children from ethnic minority backgrounds to start racing something which is expensive to get into to the average person. And that is why Lewis Hamilton is my GOAT and why he should be considered one of the best in F1.