Lewis Hamilton can match Michael Schumacher’s record seven world championships and overtake the former Ferrari great as the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time in Turkey on Sunday.
The Mercedes ace, who has a record 93 race wins, will be F1 champion again at the Istanbul Park circuit if his teammate and sole title rival Valtteri Bottas fails to score eight points more.
The 35-year-old Briton leads Bottas by 85 points, with 78 remaining to be won after Turkey when the season heads to the Middle East for a closing tripleheader in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
That means a second place would be enough even if Bottas wins, providing the Finn does not also take the bonus point for fastest lap.
At its simplest, Hamilton just has to beat Bottas — something he has done 10 times in 13 races so far this year.
Hamilton, who already holds records for most pole positions, podiums and points finishes, has only twice finished out of the top three in 2020 with a worst result of seventh. He is on a record run of 46 successive scoring finishes.
Mercedes won the constructors’ title for an unprecedented seventh year in a row at Imola in Italy on Nov. 1 and are assured of a seventh successive drivers’ crown as well.
“We, as a team, have done such a remarkable job,” said Hamilton after that success, saying the team title was “almost better” than the drivers’.
Hamilton, who has yet to sign a contract beyond this season, may feel differently on Sunday.
The title race is the focus but Turkey’s first race since 2011, as a replacement to fill out a championship depleted by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be welcomed by all.
The circuit, with its Turn Eight triple left-hander, was always a driver favourite even if crowds were small. They will be non-existent this weekend, with the race behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
“It´s a track that made for good racing in the past, so it will be interesting to see how the modern Formula One cars do on it,” said Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, who won the first Turkish Grand Prix for McLaren in 2005.
The battle to be best of the rest behind Mercedes and Red Bull is also on a knife-edge, with only a point separating third-placed Renault, McLaren and fifth-placed Racing Point.
Reuters statistics for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit, the 14th race of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship season:
- Lap distance: 5.338km. Total distance: 309.396km (58 laps)
- No race at this circuit since 2011.
- Lap record: Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) 1:24.770 (McLaren, 2005)
- Start time: 1010 GMT (1310 local)
- Lewis Hamilton can become a seven-times world champion and, having already won a record 93 races, the most successful Formula One driver of all time on Sunday.
- Mercedes have already taken their seventh successive constructors’ title.
- There are plenty of permutations but Hamilton will take the title if he beats Bottas.
- If the Finn wins the race, then Hamilton can still seal the championship with second place providing Bottas does not set the fastest lap.
- Should Bottas finish second, Hamilton needs to finish fourth or higher.
- If Hamilton fails to score, something that has not happened for more than two years, Bottas must still finish at least sixth.
Turkish Grand Prix
- All seven Turkish Grands Prix to date have been won by a driver starting on the front row. On five of those occasions, the man on pole position has gone on to win.
- Jenson Button (winner with Brawn in 2009) and Hamilton in 2010 both started in second place.
- Three of the races have ended in one-two finishes (Ferrari 2007, McLaren 2010, Red Bull 2011).
- Kimi Raikkonen (2005), Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel (2011) are the only active drivers to have won in Turkey. None won with their current teams.
- Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has a record 93 victories from 263 starts.
- Hamilton has won nine races in 2020 and Mercedes 11. Team mate Valtteri Bottas has won two, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly one each.
- Mercedes can pull level with Williams in the all-time list of race winning teams.
- Ferrari have won 238 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 113 and Red Bull 63. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.
- Hamilton has a record 46 points finishes in a row, which is also the most for successive classified finishes.
- The Briton leads Bottas by 85 points.
- All of the 10 teams except Williams have scored points this season.
- Mercedes are the first team to have won both titles for seven years in a row.
- Turkey will be the 500th race for Sauber, who currently compete as Alfa Romeo, since their debut in 1993. Only Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have previously reached that number. Team sporting director Beat Zehnder has attended all of them.