Lewis Hamilton admits he could not even fathom having the opportunity to match Michael Schumacher’s records in his career after his 91st victory in the Eifel Grand Prix.
Schumacher has been the all-time most successful driver in terms of race wins since 2001, taking Alain Prost’s previous record of 51 wins and extending it by 40 in the mid-2000s. Hamilton joined Formula 1 in 2007 — the year after Schumacher’s first retirement — and 13 years later his win at the Nurburgring sees him equal the legendary German.
“It’s not sunk in, that’s for sure,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know how it is for other drivers when they have these wins it takes time to analyze, realize what it actually means. Like all of us I grew up watching Michael win all those grands prix and I couldn’t even have fathomed equaling him.
“Getting to F1 was the first step of the dream, emulating Ayrton, but Michael was so far ahead. It’s beyond my wildest dreams to be here today and I feel really humbled by the moment and the opportunity I was given when I was 13, by Mercedes to join this team, I feel proud to have joined them and brought this record to Mercedes, hope we have more records to break and make – they know it’s a good investment hopefully!”
Hamilton was presented with one of Schumacher’s race-worn Mercedes helmets from 2012 by his son Mick after the race (pictured above), and says the fact he had matched his record did not cross his mind until he returned to the pits.
“I don’t even know what to say. You know, when you grow up, watching someone, when you generally idolize them in terms of the quality of the driver they are but what they are able to continuously do, year on year, race on race, week on week with their team.
“I remember playing Michael on a game called Grand Prix 2. Just seeing his dominance for so long, I don’t think anyone and especially me, didn’t imagine that I’d be anywhere near Michael in terms of records so it’s an incredible honor and going to take some time to get used to.
“Honestly, as I came into the pit lane, that’s only when I realized that I had equaled it. I hadn’t even computed it once I crossed the line. But I couldn’t have done it without this incredible team, everyone behind me continuing to push and giving it their everything. A big, big thank you and huge respect to Michael.”