Hamilton v Schumacher: Will 2017 champion match F1 legend's seven titles?


Such is the nature of sport that, as soon as somebody reaches one milestone, attention almost immediately shifts to what they could achieve next.

That is certainly true of Lewis Hamilton, who clinched his fourth Formula One drivers' title in Mexico on Sunday in a dramatic race that saw him collide with Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap.

But amidst all the post-race backslapping there was fervent talk of whether Hamilton - now the most successful British driver in F1 history - could catch one of the sport's true greats.

Michael Schumacher stands alone on seven world titles, with Juan Manuel Fangio (5) now the only other man to have won more than Hamilton.

It may seem premature to be tipping Hamilton to near enough double his tally of drivers' crowns - Vettel, after all, is level with the Mercedes man on four - but the former McLaren driver stacks up favourably when compared to Schumacher in most departments.

For starters, Hamilton and Schumacher were both 32 when collecting their fourth title, so if Hamilton has the drive to achieve more, he certainly has time on his side.

The Englishman has already surpassed the German when it comes to securing pole positions - Hamilton has topped qualifying on 72 occasions, compared to Schumacher's 68.

That equates to 35 per cent of his entries, streets ahead of Schumacher's 22 per cent.

It must be noted, of course, that Schumacher's statistics are somewhat skewed by his three seasons in an uncompetitive Mercedes after coming out of retirement, and this is perhaps most evident when the win ratios of the two drivers are compared.

Taking the pair's careers as a whole, Hamilton averages a victory every 3.32 starts, marginally - and perhaps surprisingly - better than Schumacher, who topped the podium once every 3.36 grands prix.

However, if we discount Schumacher's Mercedes encore, which saw him go 58 races without a win, his ratio improves sharply to 2.73, and he remains well clear when it comes to total race victories - Schumacher has won 91 grands prix, compared to Hamilton's 62.


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Hamilton is yet to dominate a season in quite the same way Schumacher managed - the German won 13 of 18 races in 2004, while the former's best was 11 of 19 in 2014

But Hamilton has won a staggering 51 per cent of races since the dawning of the hybrid era in 2014 - if he can maintain that rate, he will catch Schumacher in 2020 and likely join him on seven world titles.

Schumacher won championships five, six and seven in consecutive years, claiming his final crown at the age of 35.

It would take a brave man to bet against Hamilton and Mercedes - a driver and team currently head and shoulders above their rivals - repeating that feat.