Lewis Hamilton’s sixth world drivers’ championship, duly confirmed at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, confirms his place on the front row of the grid of Formula One legends.
It also marks a milestone for British, and certainly English, sport.
The latest world crown for Hamilton completes another processional year for the Mercedes team which had already locked up another constructors’ championship. When challengers briefly raised their heads to threaten, the German manufacturers rolled relentlessly on with Hamilton their spearhead, their dominance in qualifying sessions translating to Grand Prix victories and ultimately the top two places on the podium at the end of the season. If Hamilton doesn’t win, then his team-mate Valtteri Bottas will.
However, Hertfordshire-born Hamilton is a polarising figure. Many within motorsport readily acknowledge him as possibly the best there’s been, but that status has not transferred to the general British psyche: he drives a car, therefore he’s only as good as his machinery, so the car’s the star.
In F1 terms, he is yet to pass Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles, or his number of race wins (Hamilton has 83 to the German’s 91). But the Briton has a better win rate (one in three races) which he has sustained over a longer period of time than all-time greats Juan Fangio or Jim Clark, he has by far, more pole positions (an indicator of his outright pace) than anyone else, he has won five world titles in six years (a procession only interrupted by his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016), making it his third world crown on the trot; only Schumacher has eclipsed that with five in the early years of this century.
Such a stranglehold on this high-octane and glamorous world has helped put British sport overall into uncharted territory. Because, after analysing records going back to 1950, this decade has emerged as the most successful in sporting history with this year, in particular, England’s finest.
Results across eight major sports – football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, cycling, golf and Formula One – were examined with points awarded for wins in both male and female tournaments.
Thanks to the likes of Hamilton, the recent dominance in the Tour de France from Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, tennis Grand Slam success for Andy Murray and team triumph in the Davis Cup, Rory McIlroy’s emergence, and Olympic and world glory for the likes of Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dina Asher-Smith, this is Britain’s golden era in sport.
And, despite England’s failure in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday, 2019 has been England’s best yet in male sport thanks in part to victory in the Cricket World Cup and the triumphs by Liverpool and Chelsea in all-England finals in both Champions and Europa leagues.
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