Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s F1 wins record with Eifel GP victory
Lewis Hamilton has made history after matching Michael Schumacher’s Formula One victory record by winning the Eifel Grand Prix.
The British driver started second at the Nurburgring but assumed control of the race on lap 13 when Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas slid off the road.
Despite a late safety car, Hamilton kept his cool to cross the line 4.4 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and claim the 91st win of his remarkable career, 14 years and 10 days after Schumacher’s final grand prix triumph in China.
Hamilton also moved 69 points clear of Bottas, who retired from the race with an engine failure, in his quest for a record-equalling seventh world championship. Daniel Ricciardo took the final podium position for Renault.
Hamilton, 35, was denied the landmark victory at his first attempt in Russia after he was penalised by the stewards. And when pole-sitter Bottas held his nerve to keep the six-time world champion at bay through the opening two bends it looked as though Hamilton’s drive into the history books would be put on hold.
But, with just 13 of the 60 laps on the board, Bottas locked his front-right tyre under braking for the first corner, allowing Hamilton to sweep around the outside of the Finn at the following left-hander.
Five laps later, Bottas was forced to park his Mercedes with an engine failure and despite Verstappen again outperforming his Red Bull machinery to keep Hamilton on his toes, and a safety car deployed with only 15 laps to run, it proved to be a straightforward triumph for the Stevenage-born racer.
The historic win is even more poignant for Hamilton, with Schumacher’s home town of Kerpen 52 miles north of the Nurburgring. Little is known of the 51-year-old following his skiing accident on the French Alps almost eight years ago.
Here, his son Mick, expected to be racing against Hamilton in F1 next season, watched on from inside the Alfa Romeo garage as his father’s winning haul was equalled.
For most, it seemed inconceivable that Schumacher’s extraordinary tally would be beaten, but Hamilton will now go beyond it with another victory of his quite stunning career in Portugal later this month.
Aged 22, the Englishman claimed his first triumph in just his sixth appearance at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix – bursting on to the global sporting stage in a breakthrough campaign for McLaren – and he has won at least one race in each of the 14 seasons in which he has competed. With a seventh title now almost inevitable, he will end this year as the most decorated driver the sport has ever seen.
On a smooth afternoon at a cold Nurburgring, the sole threat to Hamilton’s victory arrived with 10 laps remaining when the safety car – deployed after Lando Norris conked out in his McLaren – came into the pits.
But Hamilton executed the perfect restart to leave Verstappen trailing. The Dutchman, the only driver in the same class as Hamilton, finished ahead of former Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez fourth and Carlos Sainz sixth for McLaren.
On another sobering day for Vettel, the four-time world champion spun en route to finishing outside the points in 11th.
George Russell was taken out of the race by Kimi Raikkonen after the veteran Finn, in his record-breaking 323rd appearance, sent the Williams driver on to one wheel after a clumsy collision at the first corner.
Hamilton was presented with one of Schumacher’s helmets by the German’s son Mick in the moments after the race.
The Mercedes driver held the red helmet aloft with his right arm as an applause rang out among the 13,500 spectators here at a venue where Schumacher won on five occasions.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Hamilton. “I remember seeing Michael’s dominance and I don’t think anyone, especially me, could imagine I would get anywhere near him in terms of his record.”