Lewis Hamilton became the most successful British F1 driver of all time when he wrapped up a fourth world championship victory this year. It was the most exciting season for many years, featuring the two outstanding drivers of their generation battling it out for rival teams.
Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both had competitive cars, and we witnessed an almighty tussle, but the Brit came out on top thanks to remarkable consistency, impeccable race-craft and peerless fortitude. He overcame dirty tricks, intense pressure and challenging conditions to romp to victory with two races to spare, and proved himself to be the best in the world. Here are his five most impressive victories:
US Grand Prix, October 22
Hamilton extended his lead over Vettel to 62 points with a dominant victory in Texas and all but sealed the title. It was the sixth US Grand Prix victory of his career and he declared it to be his favourite track during a post-race interview with Usain Bolt.
Vettel enjoyed a fantastic start and roared into the lead from the off, but Hamilton was calmness personified as he stayed close to the German, passed him on the sixth lap and held him off with ease. He opened up a huge lead and ended up winning by 10 seconds.
This win capped a remarkable run of results for Hamilton, who trailed Vettel heading into the summer but then won six out of eight races to establish his dominance. A ninth-placed finish in the following race was enough to see him clinch the title, and once again Hamilton will be the man to beat next year. He has won three of the past four championships and will be the frontrunner when you take a look at the spread betting markets due to his sheer speed on the track.
British Grand Prix, July 16
Hamilton went crowd surfing among adoring fans after he won his fourth consecutive British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July.
The 32-year-old took pole with a sensational lap that left him 0.756 seconds quicker than Vettel. He converted that into a commanding lead at the first corner and then simply drove off into the distance. This was one of the most comfortable wins of his career, but that made it no less special. His utter dominance gave him a psychological edge over his rivals heading into the business end of the season and provided a great platform on which to build his championship win.
Belgian Grand Prix, August 27
Hamilton treated 100,000 fans in Ardennes to a masterclass in frontrunning and cut Vettel’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship to seven points with a nail-biting win. It was his 200th Grand Prix and his 58th win, a statistic that illustrates just how remarkably consistent he has been over the years.
Hamilton also took his 68th pole position, equalling the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher, a record he broke in the following race in Italy. That pole proved crucial as Vettel matched him for pace throughout and Hamilton’s lead was never more than two seconds. But he held his nerve in a gripping battle that left no room for error and breathed a huge sigh of relief upon taking the chequered flag.
Singapore Grand Prix, September 17
This was arguably Hamilton’s most significant win of the season. Vettel had already claimed victories in Monaco and Hungary, suggesting that the Ferrari was better suited to tight, twisty street races than the Mercedes.
Singapore is a similar track and Vettel was expected to cruise this one. Hamilton’s team boss, Toto Wolff, wrote off his chances of winning the race, talked about damage limitation and started preparing for future challenges. But Hamilton put in a masterful performance to win the race after Vettel crashed out, and the Brit gained a stranglehold on the championship. He was at his magnificent best throughout and totally controlled a race in which he was tipped to struggle.
Spanish Grand Prix, May 14
Hamilton shed four-and-a-half pounds in weight as he edged a gripping, seesaw duel with Vettel under the sweltering Spanish sun. He somehow found the energy to leap from his car in ecstasy after the race, and he deserved to soak up the praise as it was a truly brilliant display of pace, ingenuity and grit. He looked drained and depleted on the podium, but the effort was worth it.
The Circuit de Catalunya is notoriously difficult to navigate due to its rough surface and high-speed corners, and it was the perfect setting for the battle of the season. Hamilton started on pole but Vettel passed him on a frantic start and held onto the lead for 44 laps.
A smart strategy from Mercedes put Hamilton on a long middle stint on the slower medium tyres to give him a chance to attack Vettel towards the end of the race, and it paid off. Vettel, who had already performed a superb dummy overtake on Valtteri Bottas, defended aggressively, but Hamilton swept past him around the outside of Turn One.
He controlled his pace beautifully to hold off the threat of Vettel for the remaining 22 laps and earned a dramatic victory. Not only was this his greatest win of the season, it was possibly his greatest win of all time.
Martin Green is an experienced sports writer and has been covering F1 for many years.