Here’s one for debate: The BBC has Lewis Hamilton at No. 15 on its greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time.
No, Lewis hasn’t retired or anything. He’s still going — which I guess means he could climb that list or drop down it. If you’re keeping count, Lewis lands one spot ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr.
Just checking to see if you’re reading closely. Not Jr., the original Nelson Piquet.
Here’s a little bit from Andrew Benson’s piece and there’s video of Murray Walker assessing Hamilton at the link:
When Lewis Hamilton burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 2007, taking on and often beating the reigning world champion Fernando Alonso in equal cars, in Italy they gave him the nickname ‘Il Phenomeno’ – the Phenomenon.
As a description of his naked talent, that remains as accurate as ever. But an altogether more complex picture of this fascinating, thrillingly brilliant racing driver has emerged since.
In terms of raw ability, very few in the history of F1 can compare with Hamilton. He can do with a racing car things of which most can only dream. As his current team-mate at McLaren Jenson Button put it: “Lewis is one of the fastest drivers ever to race in F1.”
Coupled with that breathtaking pace is an ability to overtake that is just as rare, just as dazzling.
After finishing third in Malaysia following a comparatively subdued drive in mixed conditions one might have thought were made for him, Hamilton made a remark that was very revealing of his new attitude.
“I can’t for the life of me understand how I did it in 2007,” he said, explaining his ambition to finish on the podium in every race this year, “so I’m trying to repeat that.”
The difference is that in 2012 he is trying to recreate with deliberation something that came naturally in 2007.
It remains to be seen whether that conscious conservatism can be married successfully with the unique off-the-cuff improvisational approach that makes him so exciting and, at his best, so effective.
Well, there you have it, from a source I suppose we could argue is a bit biased toward a young British driver. But how do you think the ranking fits? Too soon to judge Hamilton? And would you guess he’ll end his career higher or lower?
Here’s the rest of the list thus far:
Number 16 – Nelson Piquet
Number 17 – Emerson Fittipaldi
Number 18 – Jack Brabham
Number 19 – Graham Hill
Number 20 – Jochen Rindt