Lewis Hamilton passes Michael Schumacher in never-before-seen moment

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read
Lewis Hamilton, pictured here winning the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton won the Portuguese Grand Prix to break Michael Schumacher's record. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

Lewis Hamilton has broken Michael Schumacher’s all-time record for race wins in Formula One with his 92nd career victory in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.

A fortnight after he drew level with Schumacher in Germany, Hamilton now stands alone in the record books after taking the chequered flag at Portimao 25.5 seconds clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

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Hamilton is poised to become the sport’s most successful driver of all-time as early as next month, with a seventh world championship certain to follow this season.

The Englishman’s victory here moved him 77 points clear of Bottas with just 130 points to play for.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished third ahead of the Ferrari driver of Charles Leclerc, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo ended up ninth in his Renault.

Hamilton said afterwards: “It is going to take some time to fully sink in. I cannot find the words at the moment.

“My dad is here, which is amazing, and my step-mum Linda too and my dog Roscoe, so it is a blessed day.

“I could have only ever dreamed of being where I am today. I didn't have a magic ball when I came to Mercedes but here I am and as a team we are trying to make the most of it.”

The Briton added: “I had cramp in my right calf so I was lifting down the straight because it felt like it was about to pull but I had to get through it.”

Schumacher record seemed untouchable

Hamilton was an 11-year-old boy dominating Britain’s karting scene the last time a Formula One grand prix was staged in Portugal in 1996.

Little did Hamilton know then, that 24 years later he would break F1's all-time win record - a tally many thought would never be bettered following Schumacher's 91st win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix.

For the opening six laps, Hamilton's quest for history appeared in grave danger following a bizarre start to the 12th of 17 rounds under overcast and blustery Algarve skies.

After taking pole on Saturday, Hamilton retained the lead on the downhill gallop to the opening bend, but halfway round the first lap he had fallen to third, passed by Bottas and then McLaren's Carlos Sainz, who started seventh.

A smattering of rain drops and cooler conditions meant Hamilton was off the mark in getting his medium-compound rubber up to speed, and team-mate Bottas, on the same rubber was also struggling.

Lewis Hamilton, pictured here celebrating his record-breaking 92nd race win in Formula One.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his record-breaking 92nd race win. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images)

Indeed, by the end of a frantic first lap - which also saw Verstappen collide with Racing Point's Sergio Perez at the fourth corner - Sainz, starting on the speedier soft tyres, had taken the lead.

The briefest of showers soon abated and normal order started to resume, with Bottas retaking the lead on lap six and Hamilton moving past Sainz to take second on the ensuing lap.

At that stage, Bottas appeared in control, but it was not long before Hamilton's brilliance came to the fore.

On laps 17, 18 and 19, Hamilton set a hat-trick of fastest laps and Bottas's two-second lead had evaporated. Then, on the run down to Turn 1 on lap 20, Hamilton cruised round the outside of Bottas to lead.

Over the course of nine spellbinding laps, Hamilton opened up a seven-second lead over the Finn and with that, any chance Bottas had of stopping Hamilton from rewriting F1's record books was over.

Looking to the future, Hamilton said: “I don't believe in the saying the sky is the limit.

“It depends how much we want it, how much we want to continue to raise the bar. Going by our history together, we don't sit back on our results. We keep working and keep elevating.

“I am 35-years-old and I still feel physically strong, but of course you wonder when it is going to tip over and when you are going to start losing performance. Judging by today, it is not yet.”

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