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Why Hamilton is the most important icon in F1 history

Why Hamilton is the most important icon in F1 history

F1 News

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Why Hamilton is the most important icon in F1 history

Why Hamilton is the most important icon in F1 history

F1 has spawned multiple legends of world sport in its 71-year history yet only a few can claim to be icons.

Whether it be Ayrton Senna for his unique style, charisma and ultimate talent or drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Alain Prost or Michael Schumacher for outright achievement, the sport boasts a welter of true greats.

But others can become iconic in other ways. Take Sir Jackie Stewart and his push for safety standards in F1 that has no doubt saved a number of lives since he retired from driving in the 1970s.

In many ways, the way he changed the sport outweighs his three world championship successes.

But there is one driver who is currently eclipsing all of these greats. Lewis Hamilton is becoming the most important driver F1 has seen.

Here is why the Briton is placing himself on such a lofty pedestal.

Hamilton's F1 achievements

This is where opinion cannot enter the equation. Hamilton is statistically the greatest driver in F1 history given his success rate.

Ninety-nine wins, 101 pole positions and 173 podiums means he tops those three lists, whilst his 3973 career points is almost 1000 more than Sebastian Vettel in second, bearing in mind, of course, scoring systems have changed over the years.

Hamilton has led more laps than anyone in history, and led more individual grands prix than any other driver,

Only Schumacher has more fastest laps or more hat-tricks [fastest lap, pole and win] and only Clark trumps Hamilton for grand slams [fastest lap, pole, win from start to finish].

Hamilton's 48-race finishing streak is by far the longest of any driver, but of course, the main highlight is his seven world titles which place him equal with Schumacher.

This season, the Mercedes driver leads the championship after 11 races of a proposed 23. An eighth triumph would leave him alone at the top.

Hamilton's stature helps F1 grow

There was a time not so long ago where F1 drivers were criticised for being too robotic, too polished. This meant casual viewers could not gauge personalities or become invested in a specific driver.

Nowadays we see drivers like Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and George Russell, to name but a few, engaging with social media and game streaming sites, adding a new dimension to how fans can follow certain drivers.

All of this trailed on from Hamilton's lead. When other drivers would take time either training or relaxing in between races, Hamilton would be amidst the world's biggest celebrities at an event like the Met Gala.

The exposure given to F1 by Hamilton's profile was second to none. In a digital age, the now 36-year-old has transformed how F1 drivers conduct themselves - not all of course, but he has broken the mould of such monotony.

To put into context how big a draw Hamilton is, his Instagram following is at 23.3 million. Title rival Max Verstappen, one of the most followed driver's in the sport, only has 5.5 million. Even the official F1 account has 14.4 million.

People who don't follow golf may tune in because of Tiger Woods. People who don't follow tennis may tune in to follow Serena Williams or Roger Federer. People who don't follow F1 will tune in because Lewis Hamilton is competing and that influence is huge in driving the sport forward.

Hamilton's campaigning changing the sport

Stewart may have changed the sport safety-wise, but the importance of what Hamilton is doing now cannot be underestimated.

After leading campaigns to recognising issues and stigmas around racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the USA last year, F1 followed in his footsteps as did other drivers - although they needed a lot of persuading from Hamilton.

The WeRaceAsOne ceremony has been altered slightly this year but an anti-racism message is still played.

Since his protestations began, Mercedes has ditched its famous silver livery for a black look, whilst the first black woman stood atop an F1 podium when Petronas' trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers joined Hamilton for the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix celebrations.

The Hamilton Commission was created to find answers and suggest solutions to diversity issues in the sport. Only one per cent of F1 personnel were found to be from Black backgrounds.

A list of recommendations have been made whilst his partnership with Mercedes has seen the launch of Mission 44 to help promote STEM learning in under-represented groups, with Hamilton pledging £20million of his own money.

F1 has announced its own initiatives in the wake of the Hamilton Commission report, offering university places and internship placements with teams for minorities.

The work being done by Hamilton will help change the perspective of the sport being a playground for rich white men, instead providing opportunities for people no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation.

The legacy Hamilton will leave behind when he eventually leaves F1 guarantees himself iconic status.

What do you think?
PapaofGags

@MclarenRules

Your post says a lot more about you than Lewis.

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