As we look ahead to the new Formula 1 season, the big story for the 2021 campaign is Lewis Hamilton’s quest to win a record eighth World Championship.

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Whether or not Hamilton does surpass the record seven World Championships he and Michael Schumacher hold, the debate as to who is the greatest of all time will rumble on.

We’ve gone through the Formula 1’s all time stats and looked at the best F1 drivers in history to try and come up with an answer.

Most world titles:

Michael Schumacher71994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Lewis Hamilton 72008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Juan Manuel Fangio51951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957
Alain Prost41985, 1986, 1989, 1993
Sebastian Vettel42010, 2011, 2012, 2013

As mentioned, Hamilton is currently on seven world titles tied with Michael Schumacher for the most f1 wins, but with a new one-year contract signed at Mercedes, and a successful campaign last year, it could well be Hamilton’s year to make history.

Total starts:

Kimi Raikkonen2001-2009, 2012-2020329
Rubens Barrichello1993-2011323
Fernando Alonso2001, 2003-2018311
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-2012306
Jenson Button2000-2017306

As the only driver on this list currently active, Kimi Räikkönen claimed the lead for the most starts last season surpassing Rubens Barrichello’s previous record for most F1 starts. The Iceman, Raikkonen, is a former world champion in his own right and although he’s not a leading contender in the race for the G.O.A.T status, his dry sense of humour and no-nonsense radio messages have made him one of the most beloved drivers in the sport’s history.

In an exciting move for fans, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will return to the grid with Alpine this season, so expect to see the legendary Spaniard to continue his rise up the list as well.

Most F1 record races with a single constructor:

Michael SchumacherFerrari1996-2006181
Lewis HamiltonMercedes2013-2020157
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari2007-2009, 2014-2018152
David CoulthardMcLaren1996-2004150
Felipe MassaFerrari2006-2013140

Perhaps unsurprisingly during his title-laden decade at Ferrari, Schumacher set the record for the most consecutive races with a single constructor. With Hamilton the only active driver on this list with the same constructor, he seems the most likely candidate to eclipse Schumacher.

However, with rumours rife that Hamilton may seeks pastures new before his career ends, Schumacher’s record could stand for quite a while longer yet.

Most F1 wins:

Lewis Hamilton2007-202026795
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-201230891
Sebastian Vettel2007-202024953
Alain Prost1980-1991, 199320251
Ayrton Senna1984-199416241

Not only did Hamilton join Schumacher at a record seven World Championship wins but also overtook him in the standings for most overall wins. Hamilton surpassed Schumacher’s previous record of 91 wins and went to the top of the leaderboard marking 95 wins, coming into the 2021 season he could have his eye on reaching the 100 wins milestone.

As it currently stands, heading into the new season, Hamilton operates at a strike rate of 35.38% in his career. Winning just over a third of the races he’s started in F1, the Brit leads Schumacher’s, still impressive, strike rate of 29.5%.

Third on the list, Sebastian Vettel, will be heading in to the new 2021 season with a new contract at Aston Martin. The German, who didn’t win a race last year with Ferrari, has secured his legacy and currently has the third most wins of any F1 driver in history, ahead of the iconic names of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Again, Vettel might not be a leading contender as the greatest of all time, but he’s certainly in the conversation.

Most podium finishes:

Lewis Hamilton2007-2020267165
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-2012308155
Sebastian Vettel2007-2020258121
Alain Prost1980-1991, 1993202106
Kimi Raikkonen2001-2009, 2012-2020332103

Hamilton again sits at the top of this leaderboard, overtaking Schumacher last season to achieve the most F1 podium finishes. Hamilton’s strike rate is once again superior to the German’s, finishing on the podium in 61.8% of his Grand Prix starts, compared to Schumacher’s 50.3%. Vettel has an equally impressive podium strike rate, finishing in the top three in 46.9% of his starts.

Most pole positions:

Lewis Hamilton2007-202026798
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-201230868
Ayrton Senna1984-199416265
Sebastian Vettel2007-202025857
Jim Clark1960-19687333

Qualifying seems to be one area in which Hamilton has a definite edge. Particularly since joining Mercedes, Hamilton has been exemplary and now has a strike rate of 36.7%, compared to Schumacher’s 22%. These strike rates are dwarfed by Senna, who qualified on pole in a remarkable 40% of his F1 races.