'Lack of rivals a threat to Hamilton's legacy'

Hamilton on Oct 25 became the sport's most successful driver when he claimed a record 92nd win.
Hamilton on Oct 25 became the sport's most successful driver when he claimed a record 92nd win.PHOTO: REUTERS

IMOLA • Lewis Hamilton may go on to win 10 world drivers' titles, but his status as the greatest could be undermined by a lack of true rivals, according to two of Britain's best-known former racers.

Martin Brundle and Damon Hill both agreed the six-time Formula One champion is a deserved success story, with the former saying he felt privileged to witness his feats.

Hamilton last Sunday claimed a record 92nd win, one clear of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher's 14-year record of 91 wins.

Hill, the 1996 world champion, believes Hamilton needs to be challenged by and beat another driver of the same calibre if he is to silence the doubters.

"There's a risk that Lewis' achievements will be measured against the intensity of his competition," said Hill, who had to beat Schumacher to win his title. "Mercedes have totally dominated this era and Lewis is not challenged."

Brundle said he would not be surprised if Hamilton won 10 championships. "I'm not sure we ever thought anybody would approach, let alone surpass, Michael Schumacher's tally of 91 victories," the commentator told Sky Sports before adding "and I think there's a long way to go yet".

He added that Hamilton, like Schumacher, says he is not interested in statistics, but did this only to deflect pressure.

"I could see Lewis aiming at something like 10 frankly and a long way north of 100 victories."

Hamilton will be seeking to help Mercedes seal an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors' title at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix amid much speculation about his future.

He is out of contract this year and F1 is heading towards a likely salary cap for drivers in 2023. Reports have suggested he wants to improve on his current deal, said to be worth around €40 million (S$64 million) a season while Mercedes want to cut costs.

Team boss Toto Wolff is also out of contract this year, but like Hamilton, has said he wants to stay with the team - and would much prefer to secure the champion on a multi-year deal instead of a one-year extension.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline ''Lack of rivals a threat to Hamilton's legacy''. Print Edition | Subscribe