As the Formula 1 season continues, one of the ongoing narratives for the 2020 campaign will be Lewis Hamilton’s quest to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships. 

Whether or not Hamilton does equal, or even surpass Schumacher’s F1 driver record, the debate as to who is the greatest of all time will rumble on.

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

Most world titles:

DriverTitlesSeasons
Michael Schumacher71994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Lewis Hamilton 62008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
Juan Manuel Fangio51951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957
Alain Prost41985, 1986, 1989, 1993
Sebastian Vettel42010, 2011, 2012, 2013

As mentioned, Hamilton, on six world titles, is just one championship away from equalling Schumacher’s all-time record of seven world titles, set in 2004. With two Grand Prix wins to his name so far this season, and currently sitting top of the leaderboard, it could well be Hamilton’s year.

Total starts:

DriverSeasonsStarts
Rubens Barrichello1993-2011322
Kimi Raikkonen2001-2009, 2012-2020317
Fernando Alonso2001, 2003-2018311
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-2012306
Jenson Button2000-2017306

As the only driver on this list currently active, Kimi Räikkönen could well surpass Rubens Barrichello’s record for most F1 starts at some point this season, depending on the length of the campaign. The Iceman 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 Renault in 2021, so expect to see the legendary Spaniard to continue his rise up the list as well.

Most races with a single constructor:

DriverConstructorSeasonsEntries
Michael SchumacherFerrari1996-2006181
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari2007-2009, 2014-2018152
David CoulthardMcLaren1996-2004150
Lewis HamiltonMercedes2013-2020145
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 wins:

DriverSeasonsEntriesWins
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-201230891
Lewis Hamilton2007-202025587
Sebastian Vettel2007-202024653
Alain Prost1980-1991, 199320251
Ayrton Senna1984-199416241

Given that Hamilton is just one drivers’ title behind Schumacher, it should come as little surprise that he is in pole position to overtake the German for most F1 wins. Although it’s unlikely Hamilton will exceed the 91 mark this season, it seems inevitable that he will do so before he leaves Formula 1.

As it currently stands, Hamilton has a superior strike rate to Schumacher. Staggeringly, the Brit has won just over a third (34.1%) of the races he’s started in F1 compared to a no less impressive 29.5% for Schumacher.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel may well be enjoying his last season in Formula 1. The German currently does not have a seat for 2021 after it was announced that Carlos Sainz Jr. would race alongside Charles Leclerc for the Scuderia next season. Vettel’s legend is secure, though, and he 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:

DriverSeasonsEntriesPodiums
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-2012308155
Lewis Hamilton2007-2020255155
Sebastian Vettel2007-2020245120
Alain Prost1980-1991, 1993202106
Kimi Raikkonen2001-2009, 2012-2020319103

Schumacher and Hamilton are tied when it comes to most F1 podium finishes. Hamilton’s strike rate is once again superior to the German’s, though, finishing on the podium in 60.8% 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 49% of his starts.

Most pole positions:

DriverSeasonsEntriesPoles
Lewis Hamilton2007-202025591
Michael Schumacher1991-2006, 2010-201230868
Ayrton Senna1984-199416265
Sebastian Vettel2007-202024557
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 35.7%, compared to Schumacher’s 22%. These strike rates are dwarfed by the immortal Senna, who qualified on pole in a remarkable 40% of his F1 races.

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