Former Formula 1 driver turned pundit, Martin Brundle, reckons Lewis Hamilton could go on to win ten F1 World Championships and still be able to retire in his prime.
The Briton matched Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles this year and surpassed the German’s win tally of 91 – Hamilton currently has 95 wins to his name – to become the sport’s most successful driver.
An eighth title in 2021 looks highly likely given the stable regulations will somewhat guarantee the Mercedes remains the dominant car, whilst Brundle doesn’t believe anyone will be in a position to challenge Hamilton, which he says has been the case since Nico Rosberg retired.
“For me, Lewis hasn’t really had a true rival since Rosberg retired,” Brundle told Sky Sports F1. “Verstappen has never quite had the machinery. There’s not really been a combo to challenge Lewis since 2016. Either in his own team or any other team, nobody’s quite had all the stars aligned.”
Brundle, a nine-time podium finisher, highlighted Hamilton’s consistency as key to his success and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
“I think what has stood out about Lewis over the years is how few mistakes he makes, how complete he is, and clean,” he added. “He’s a clean racing driver which I think is a very important point.
“His work rate is also incredible, and that’s something you hear up and down the paddock. And his motivation. When you’ve got all of that success, money, and a trophy cabinet like that, to keep the motivation is super impressive.
“And he just never makes a mistake. In wheel-to-wheel combat, in qualifying… he’s 35, going on 25. He just doesn’t fade, mentally or physically – his eyesight, his reactions, nothing has fallen away.”
Eventually all the greats start to fade, which Brundle says was obvious with Schumacher and is now happening to four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, and although it will eventually happen to Hamilton, Brundle reckons the 35-year-old will retire first.
“If you’re going to start fading, you’re on a gentle slope. And he doesn’t appear to have started that slope yet.
“Michael was in his 40s when he retired and he started making a lot of mistakes, and most of us did – you start having crashes at the end and you don’t know why that happened. That’s what it looks like Sebastian is to me, right now.
“I think 10 championships and maybe 150 race victories is entirely doable [for Hamilton].
“My gut feeling is he’ll stop a year early rather than a year late. He’s not going to hang on until the bitter end for a few more dollars, or just to be a Formula 1 driver, and nor will he need to.
“He’s obviously got other ambitions in his life, but I can’t imagine why he would stop in the next five years, or certainly three. Why would he?”