ISTANBUL – Lewis Hamilton sealed an historic seventh drivers’ title, after driving impeccably in wet conditions in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday.
The victory gave Hamilton, 36, his 10th victory of the season in 14 races this seasonin the Mercedes and drew him equal with the record of former champion Michael Schumacher of Germany.
Sergio Perez of Racing Point and former champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari completed the podium, after a thrilling race at Intercity Park.
This was the 94th win of Hamilton’s career. The British driver, whose father hails from the Spice Isle of Grenada, broke Schumacher’s all-time wins record after he won on October 25 in Portugal for his 92nd career win.
“I definitely am a bit lost for words,” Hamilton told reporters following the race. “I think, naturally, I have to always start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys that are here and all the guys back at the factory, both our factories, and all our partners for enabling us and giving us this opportunity.
“You know, I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team, and the journey we’ve been on has been monumental – and I’m so proud of them. I also want to say a big, big thank you to Team LH for sticking with me all these years and then to my family.”
He added: “We dreamed of this when we were young and when I was young, when we were watching the Grands Prix, and this is way, way beyond our dreams.
“I think it’s so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and know don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You have to work for it, you have to chase it and never give up, and never doubt yourself.”
Hamilton started the race in sixth, rose to third midway through the first lap and then dropped back to sixth by the end of the first lap after an error at Turn 9.
But a decision to drive 50 laps on a set of intermediate tyres and change them only once, allowed Hamilton to drive astutely and claim victory by over 25 seconds from Perez.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland had to beat Hamilton by eight points to keep the title race alive – but he spun out six times – twice on the opening lap – and endured a miserable race to finish 14th.
“We knew coming here it was already such a difficult weekend,” said Hamilton. “We weren’t massively disappointed with our qualifying position. We knew that we were on the back foot and we did the best we could, but then we learnt a lot.
“This is what we do as a team. There’s no blame game; we hash it out and we continue to try and improve our communication, so that we can make moves forwards and you don’t always get everything perfect.”
He said: “We had that small moment at the beginning of the race with the new tyres and then I couldn’t get past (Sebastien) for a while and at that point I could see (Alexander) Albon (in the Red Bull) pulling away.
“I was thinking, ‘this race, this podium has fallen away from me, fallen through my fingers’, but I just kept my head down, kept believing that I would pick up pace of some sort, at some stage. And that’s what I did.”
Having surpassed Schumacher for most race wins and now equalled his title haul, Hamilton said he could never imagine that his career would be so successful.
“I know often I say, ‘it’s beyond my wildest dreams’, but I think my whole life, secretly, I probably have dreamt as high as this, you know, but it felt so far-fetched,” he said.
“I remember watching Michael winning those championships and you know we all here, all of us drivers, are always doing the best job we can and just to get one, two or even three (titles), you know it’s so hard to get.”
He said: “Seven is kind of unimaginable. When you work with such a great group of people and you really communicate and trust one another and listen to one another, there was just no end to what we could do together, me and this team.
“I’m so proud of the work that was done and them trusting me (in this race), you know. That comes with experience.”
The next stop in the F1 season is Bahrain, where there will be two races on November 29 and December 6 before the Middle Eastern triple header that will close out the calendar ends with a race in Abu Dhabi on December 13.