How Lewis Hamilton won his seventh Formula 1 world title
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton clinched his seventh Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship last weekend, matching F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record.
The British driver won a wet and slippery Turkish Grand Prix to equal Schumacher’s title wins, having already surpassed the German’s race wins record last month (Hamilton now has 94).
Hamilton’s first championship came with McLaren in 2008, but after waiting six years for his second title (2014), the 35-year-old has won six out of the last seven on offer.
How Hamilton won his record-equalling seventh Championship?
Set against the backdrop of a global pandemic, this could have been Hamilton’s most challenging season. And when his Mercedes’ team-mate Valtteri Bottas won the opener in Austria it had many hoping we had a real title fight on our hands.
But Hamilton fought back and won the next three races from pole position. The pick of these was his British Grand Prix victory, where his left-front tire was delaminating in the middle of the final lap.
After Pierre Gasly triumphed in Italy, Bottas still had a chance going into the Tuscan Grand Prix. The Finn led before a red flag saw Hamilton overtake him at the restart.
The Brit sealed the deal in Istanbul, using his nous to stay out on the track with worn tyres as others decided to pit. Championship rival Bottas finished a lowly 14th.
With three weekend’s remaining in the 2020 calendar, Hamilton has won 10 of the 14 races including his record-breaking 92nd win in Portugal that saw him leap-frog Schumacher.
Will Hamilton sign with Mercedes next season?
The attention now turns to what happens next year. Can Mercedes’ dominance continue in 2021 and beyond?
Hamilton’s deal is set to expire at the end of the current season and his recent remarks have left his future unclear: “I would like to be here next year but there is no guarantee of that. There is a lot that excites me about F1’s afterlife, so time will tell.” He told MailOnline.
It’s a similar story with the team’s technical director Totto Wolf, who’s questioned his own future throughout the season too.
But Hamilton’s supremacy shows no signs of waning despite the growing presence of the youthful Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Hamilton’s the 2/5 heavy-favourite to triumph again in 2021, and now the title has been sealed the negotiations can continue. It would seem like unfinished business if both driver and team were to part company at this stage.
What’s new in the 2021 calendar?
Despite some changes being shelved until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll still see a reduction in the amount of downforce teams can deliver. This means no more of Mercedes’ ‘dual-axis steering’.
But perhaps the biggest impact will be the budget cuts – spending will be capped at $145m from 2021 (excluding driver’s salaries). This will be introduced to even the playing field and to help the long-term sustainability of the sport.
After the streamlined season in 2020, the sport’s commercial rights holders, Liberty Media, have given scope to expand the 2021 season to up to 25 Grand Prixs. The provisional calendar currently consists of 23 events with room for an additional April date.
Race weekends will also be slimmed down from a four-day to a three-day event, moving Thursday’s activities into Friday morning. This will mean further restrictions on teams and drivers making major changes to their setups ahead of Sunday’s race.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.