Lewis Hamilton: How he can make all-time F1 history in 2020
Why Hamilton begins his search for a seventh world title on the edge of ultimate F1 greatness; Watch the season-opening Australian GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 09/03/20 4:51pm
Just think about this: Lewis Hamilton could end this year as the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time.
Eight more victories and he will become the driver with the most race wins.
Five more top-three finishes and he becomes the driver with the most podiums.
And one more world title takes him on to a record-equalling seven.
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When Michael Schumacher rewrote the sport's record books in the early-mid 2000s, the expectation was that his lofty milestones would not be broken for decades - if at all. After all, the German great finished a stunning era of success in 2006 with nearly as many race wins as the drivers in second and third places on the all-time list combined.
Juan-Manuel Fangio's previous titles record of five, meanwhile, had stood for nearly half a century before Schumacher claimed a sixth crown in 2003 and then added a seventh a year later.
So what would certainly have been hard to envisage at the time was that the new records would ultimately be chased down by a driver who was starting his F1 career just months after Schumacher retired first time around.
But fast forward 14 seasons and Hamilton enters 2020 on the brink of surpassing or matching those most illustrious achievements, having already taken over the records for the most pole positions and front-row starts among others in recent seasons.
At 35, Hamilton may now be the second-oldest driver on the grid and have raced in 250 grands prix, yet there is no sign of any let-up from him as 2020 begins and history looms.
"I need to start paying Kimi [Raikkonen, who is 40] to stay so I'm not the oldest," Hamilton recently told GQ. "Luckily, I think he's going to keep going.
"I don't feel old at all. I feel as young as ever. I feel fit, fitter than ever. Everything just works better now, with the experience I have."
And that's certainly ominous for those with sights on his F1 crown.
Hamilton determined to scale new heights
Describing himself as "leaner" and at his "optimum weight" after a productive winter, Hamilton declared at winter testing that "I really do feel the best I've ever felt".
The six-time champion has spoken regularly about how he is relishing the challenge of trying to stay ahead of F1's rising new generation, with that group again likely to be led by Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the new season.
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Not that he is fazed by his status as the man they all want to beat.
"I've had a target on my back since the day I won my first championship when I was 10 years old so it's nothing new to me," he said at Barcelona.
For 2020, it's those all-time statistical targets that will inevitably be the wider focus of attention on Hamilton's season. In that regard, it's a rich era for sport in terms of athletes operating at the upper echelons of what has been achieved before.
In tennis, Serena Williams is one behind Margaret Court's Gram Slam record, while the giants of the current era in the men's game - Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic - are separated by three Grand Slams at the top of the all-time table.
And in golf, Tiger Woods last year reignited his quest for Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors by moving within three of the long-standing record.
Speaking on the subject to Sky Sports at the launch of the new Mercedes back in February, Hamilton said: "Every year I'm naturally just trying to improve and I think all those different amazing athletes are doing the same.
"Always trying to make a step up, refining their game and the mental approach. That's the real challenge. But I've got a great team that I get to work with and each year we're extracting more from each other, so that's what I'm most excited about."
Should Hamilton and Mercedes find new performance heights during 2020, then the latest rewriting of Formula 1's record books will be an inevitable consequence.
Hamilton's quest for F1's records
|Most world titles|
|Most race wins|
|Most points finishes|
|Lewis Hamilton & Kimi Raikkonen||213|