Lewis Hamilton’s seventh world crown confirms him as THE GREATEST British sportsman of his era… he has no serious rival, not even Sir Andy Murray, Sir Mo Farah or Chris Froome can match him
- Lewis Hamilton has won the Formula One world title for the seventh time
- British Mercedes driver has equalled Michael Schumacher’s title win record
- Latest triumph makes him unquestionably the best British sportsman of this era
- Andy Murray won Wimbledon twice but was ‘merely’ one of four tennis greats
- Mo Farah’s association with discredited coach Alberto Salazar follows him
What Lewis Hamilton reinforced by making himself the most successful motor racing driver in history – level with Michael Schumacher on seven world titles but ahead by every other meaningful statistic – is that he is now unquestionably the greatest British sportsman of his era.
Apologies to Sir Andy Murray, but he was ‘merely’ one of four of the best of his time, and last among the quartet at that.
Yes, it was a golden period of tennis and the Scotsman played an imperishable part in it. But Hamilton is so dominant, albeit in a fine car, that he has no serious rival.
Lewis Hamilton’s record-equalling seventh Formula One world title underlines his position as the greatest British sportsman of the modern era
Hamilton celebrate after winning a dramatic Turkish Grand Prix in wet conditions
The Mercedes team celebrate in the pit lane as Hamilton crosses the finish line in Istanbul
It is invidious to compare the pre-war pioneers of motor racing, men like Tazio Nuvorali and Rudolf Caracciola, or to the post-war greats, such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss. Danger waited at every corner. Trees lined the track. Seat belts were unheard of. That was the thrill of it.
This persisted until safety measures were called for, led by Sir Jackie Stewart. Slowly, the sport changed.
If it was emasculated, it also grew in scale into a genuinely global television sport, with thousands of feeder series all over the planet, from the never-stopping sprawl of Sao Paulo, home of Ayrton Senna, to Stevenage, home of Hamilton.
The truly international element of Formula One – the pinnacle of the 1.2billion cars on the world’s roads – underlines the worthiness of Hamilton’s claim to ‘Best Brit’ of his time (as it might if he were the world’s top golfer, tennis player or footballer rather than the leading protagonist in one of our imperial sports, such as rugger or cricket, fine games though they are).
Sir Andy Murray won Wimbledon twice but was ‘merely’ one of four tennis greats of his time
Sir Mo Farah was sensational at London 2012 but his achievements have been tainted
Who else could challenge Hamilton in the table of current brilliance? Sir Mo Farah?
Well, his achievements are exceptional and the finest moment of his career came on one of the high-table days of our national sporting story – Super Saturday, at the London Olympics of 2012.
But although he has no findings of wrongdoing against him he has had to answer questions about his association with discredited coach Alberto Salazar. Nor has he set a world record.
We must bring Chris Froome into the equation. The four-time Tour de France winner faced a doping investigation before being cleared.
Chris Froome won the Tour de France four times but during an era of suspicion in cycling
But I still rank Hamilton for his bravura beginning back in 2007, his unique feat in winning in every season of his career, his blossoming at Mercedes, the longevity that takes him to the brink of his 36th birthday undimmed in focus or speed, as a man apart.
He, after all, has done more in his crowded field than anyone else in history.
Of how many British contemporaries can that be said? Precisely, none.