Ross Brawn, the sport’s general manager, said on Monday that Lewis Hamilton could increase his record number of race wins to 120 after becoming the first Formula 1 driver to reach a century.
The seven-time world champion, who will turn 37 in January, has two more seasons on his Mercedes contract and will no doubt taste more success.
After winning Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, two points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the top of the standings, the most successful driver in the history of the sport is not about to give up.
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“Who knows where it will end up?” Brawn said in a column on the official F1 website that he predicts the Briton will continue to win every year.
“I don’t think we can predict 200 wins, but I definitely think we can predict 20 more wins as he is still very competitive and motivated.”
When Michael Schumacher retired with a record 91 wins, some observers questioned whether anyone could match the success of Ferrari’s marvel. His friend and coach Brawn was one of them.
At this point in history, the Germans had 40 more wins than the previous record holder Alain Prost and 50 more than Ayrton Senna.
Hamilton took his 92nd win in Portugal last October.
The Briton’s closest active rival is ex-Red Bull and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who is a four-time champion with 53 wins.
Both he and Vettel owe a lot to the fact that Formula 1 seasons now include many more races than in the fairly recent past, and the record 22 planned for 2021 will be held with 23 next year.
The first championship in 1950 included six Grand Prix as well as the Indianapolis 500, a race that Formula 1 drivers avoided.
Hamilton has now won even more races than triple world champion Jackie Stewart, the most successful British driver before him.
The Scots resigned in 1973 after winning 27 of the 99.
Sochi was Hamilton’s 281st start, compared to Schumacher’s 307, Prost’s 199 and Senna’s 161.
Verstappen, who turned 24 on Thursday, has raced in 134 races and won 17 of them – the first race at age 18 making him the youngest ever winner.
If anyone is going to challenge Hamilton’s record, the Dutch driver will be a leading contender.
A record Verstappen will never reach is Hamilton’s success in winning every season he has raced, starting with his sixth race with McLaren in Canada in 2007.
Since 2014, the year after joining Mercedes, Hamilton has averaged 10 wins a year – a number unlikely to match the current five- and seven-round scoreboard this time around.
Verstappen has seven wins so far.
Schumacher, by contrast, didn’t get a win until his second season and 18th race and was finally vacant with Mercedes in the 2010-12 season.
Schumacher and Vettel together hold the record for most wins in a season, 13 in 2004 and 2013, respectively. Hamilton’s best was 11 in 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020