'As hard as my first GP win'

Hamilton ties Schumacher's mark to edge nearer to 7th title but bad luck hits Bottas

Hamilton said he only realised the significance of what he had done when he came into the pit lane.
Hamilton said he only realised the significance of what he had done when he came into the pit lane.PHOTO: AFP

NURBURGRING (Germany) • Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record 91 Formula One wins yesterday, with an Eifel Grand Prix victory that catapulted the Mercedes driver closer to a seventh world championship.

While the Briton triumphed at the Nurburgring, the German circuit where Ferrari great Schumacher won five times, teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered a huge hit to his title hopes with a first retirement of the season with engine problems. That allowed Hamilton, who started second, to assume control of the race on lap 13.

Hamilton, celebrating his seventh win of the season, is now 69 points clear of the Finn in the standings with six rounds remaining.

Red Bull's Max Versteppen finished second, and took a bonus point for fastest lap, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo third for Renault in his first podium since 2018 when he was at Red Bull.

Schumacher's son Mick, the Formula Two leader who could be racing against Hamilton next season, presented the Briton with one of his father's red helmets from his second stint in F1 with Mercedes.

"Congratulations and this is on behalf of all of us. A great achievement, really," said Mick, 21, whose father suffered serious head injuries in a 2013 skiing accident and has not been seen in public since.

"Thank you so much, it's such an honour," said Hamilton before stepping up onto the podium at the circuit closest to Schumacher's boyhood home in Kerpen.

"Seeing his dominance for so long, I don't think anyone and especially me didn't imagine I'd be anywhere near Michael in terms of records."

The Briton said he realised the significance of what he had done only when he came into the pit lane after taking the chequered flag.

"91 wins - it never gets any easier, it's almost like it's getting harder than it was to get my first win in Montreal," he said of the Canadian Grand Prix in June 2007. "It's more physically demanding, in a different way. It's more mentally demanding, in a different way. So this one has been just as hard, if not harder, than my first grand prix win."

 
 

Hamilton needed 261 races to equal Schumacher's feat. The German took part in 306 grands prix.

  • EIFEL GRAND PRIX

  • PODIUM

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 35min 49.641sec 

    2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +4.4470sec

    3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault +14.613sec

    DRIVERS' STANDINGS

    1 Hamilton 230pts 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 161 3 Verstappen 147

    CONSTRUCTORS' STANDINGS

    1 Mercedes 391pts 2 Red Bull 211 3 Racing Point 120

Another mark fell as Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen started his 323rd race, beating the record set by Rubens Barrichello from 1993 to 2011.

The Finn ended 12th after picking up a time penalty for colliding with George Russell, resulting in the Williams driver spinning before retiring with a puncture.

Verstappen was the only driver to come close to Hamilton in pace and was pleased to finish "where we belonged".

Hamilton admitted that Mercedes "have got a serious fight on our hands" after coming in 4.47 seconds ahead of the Dutchman.

He said: "The closest racing will be between us two over the next 12 months."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2020, with the headline ''As hard as my first GP win''. Print Edition | Subscribe