Lewis Hamilton was unable to hold back his emotions after bursting into tears upon winning the Turkish Grand Prix and claiming an historic seventh world championship.
Hamilton produced the drive of drives in a compelling rain-hit Istanbul race to draw level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time championship haul, 16 years after the great German set a record many thought would stand the test of time.
But Hamilton, from a Stevenage council estate, has re-written the Formula One record books and, in the process, staked his claim to be considered among the greatest British sportsmen who have ever lived.
Alongside his record-equalling seventh title, Hamilton has more wins (94), more poles (97) and more podiums (163) than any driver who has gone before him.
After his incredible achievement, praise poured in from sporting colleagues and politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said Hamilton had ‘made us all so proud’.
Scroll down for video.
Lewis Hamilton was unable to hold back his emotions after bursting into tears upon winning the Turkish Grand Prix and claiming an historic seventh world championship
The brilliant driver was in tears after his stunning victory from sixth on the starting grid. He was pictured wiping tears from his eyes after climbing from his car
Hamilton, from a Stevenage council estate, has re-written the Formula One record books and, in the process, staked his claim to be considered among the greatest British sportsmen who have ever lived
Reflecting on the enormity of his achievement with three rounds of this Covid-disturbed season remaining, Hamilton sat in his black Mercedes machine with his head buried in his hands.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was the first to go over to congratulate him. ‘You are the best of our generation’, the German told his one-time rival.
After several minutes strapped in his car, Hamilton managed to compose himself, before removing his helmet and standing on top of the Mercedes that powered him to his sixth title in seven spectacular years.
‘Very rarely do I lose control of my emotions but I remember those last few laps and I was just telling myself to keep it together,’ said the Briton, who crossed the line a staggering 31.6 seconds clear of Sergio Perez. Vettel completed the podium positions.
‘But I could feel it getting closer and knowing that if I finish where I finish now I will win this championship. All these emotions were running through me and I was trying to stop it.
‘I was thinking about my whole career, when I was five and I drove my first kart to winning my first British championship, and driving home singing We Are The Champions, and then dreaming of being here, and there it is, right there, just minutes away, and that was a lot to take in.
Alongside his record-equalling seventh title, Hamilton has more wins (94), more poles (97) and more podiums (163) than any driver who has gone before him
Hamilton produced the drive of drives in a compelling rain-hit Istanbul race to draw level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time championship haul, 16 years after the great German set a record many thought would stand the test of time
But Hamilton, from a Stevenage council estate, has re-written the Formula One record books and, in the process, staked his claim to be considered among the greatest British sportsmen who have ever lived
Hamilton celebrated on the podium with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after his stunning race and championship victory
Mercedes team principle Toto Wolff (left) shares a word of congratulations with Hamilton following a fine race from the Brit
The confetti falls on Sergio Perez (right), Hamilton (centre) and Vettel (back, in red) to celebrate Hamilton’s win in Turkey
The 35-year-old Brit pulls close to the pit wall to celebrate the chequered flag with his engineers after making history
‘When I came across the line it really hit me and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t get out of the car because I couldn’t believe what had happened.
‘I didn’t want the visor to come up and people to see the tears because I always would say you will never see me cry. I have seen other drivers cry in the past, and I was like, I am never going to do that, but it was too much.’
Hamilton paid tribute to his father, Anthony, who worked multiple jobs to fund his son’s path to stardom.
‘I couldn’t have done it without the great man behind me, my dad,’ the 35-year-old added.
‘On the days I didn’t think I was good enough, or wasn’t going to do well enough, he stood me up and kept me going.
Hamilton struggles to hold back the tears after equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles
Hamilton is now the most successful driver in Formula One history. He has more wins than Michael Schumacher (the pair pictured in 2012) and has surpassed his win record
‘I was thinking of him, my mum, my step-mum Linda, my brother. They have all stood by me through thick and thin.’
Hamilton has become a leading voice in the fight for equality and greater diversity. He added: ‘It is no secret that I have walked this sport alone as the only person of colour here.
‘When I was younger I didn’t have anybody in the sport that looked like me so it was easy to think it is not possible.
‘But hopefully this sends a message to the kids that are watching that it doesn’t matter where you come from or your background, but what is important is to dream big.
‘You can create your own path and that is what I have been able to do, and it has been so tough. Tough doesn’t even describe how hard it has been.’
Valtteri Bottas, the only man who could stop Hamilton from winning the title, spun six times before finishing a lap down in 14th. Max Verstappen, the obvious heir to Hamilton’s throne, also slipped off the track on multiple occasions. Pictured: The pair embrace after the race
Hamilton paid tribute to his father, Anthony, who worked multiple jobs to fund his son’s path to stardom. ‘I couldn’t have done it without the great man behind me, my dad,’ the 35-year-old added. Pictured: The pair embracing after the Portuguese Grand Prix in October
After Sunday’s victory, Hamilton celebrated on the podium alongside fellow drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez. Hamilton threw his trophy into the air before spraying champagne
Hamilton was visibly tearful after he climbed out of his car and paid tribute to his team and fans
Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel was one of the first people to congratulate Hamilton after his incredible victory. The German leaned in to the driver’s cockpit to speak to him before he had climbed out of his car
After the race, Hamilton posed with his dog Rosco and members of his Mercedes team alongside his incredible car
This was not Hamilton’s race to win. But while those around him lost their cool, Hamilton motored from fifth to first in a matter of pivotal laps to take control of the race.
Valtteri Bottas, the only man who could stop Hamilton from winning the title, spun six times before finishing a lap down in 14th.
Max Verstappen, the obvious heir to Hamilton’s throne, also slipped off the track on multiple occasions.
Hamilton dedicated his incredible seven championship titles to his ‘incredible’ family and fans who ‘supported me along the way’
‘Seven world championships means the world to me but there’s still a race we’ve yet to win… I will continue to push for equality!’ Lewis Hamilton’s drive for change after record-equalling victory
Lewis Hamilton pledged to redouble his efforts to make Formula One a more inclusive and diverse sport after winning a record-equalling seventh world title.
Writing on Instagram, Hamilton spoke about ‘another race we’ve yet to win’ in making Formula One and society at large more equal and tolerant.
Hamilton has shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement throughout a season he has dominated on the track.
He has worn BLM t-shirts before races and taken a knee on the grid alongside a majority of his fellow racers.
Hamilton also wore a t-shirt that read ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ after winning the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Taylor, a 26-year-old black hospital worker, was fatally shot by police during a narcotics raid in the US state of Kentucky in March.
But Hamilton was serene, delivering a mesmerising performance that drew parallels with one of his finest afternoons behind the wheel of a Formula One machine, at Silverstone in 2008, when he romped to victory in similarly testing conditions.
Hamilton won his maiden title that year in Brazil. Little did he know then, that six further titles would follow. So, how will he celebrate?
‘I am going to go home tonight and probably just watch the race,’ he said. ‘I usually have a minestrone soup and I will definitely have a bottle of wine.’
Social media was awash with praise for Hamilton after his latest incredible achievement.
Former world champion Nico Rosberg led the adulation on Twitter, hailing his former rival and teammate’s achievements as ‘insane’ and among the ‘greatest’ in sporting history.
The German, who took the title in 2016 after a fierce battle with Hamilton, wrote: ‘7 x World Champion – that’s insane! Massively deserved. Surely one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.
‘Congratulations Lewis and enjoy the celebrations with your family and friends.’
Formula One described Hamilton and his joint record holder Schumacher as ‘legendary drivers’.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes team were blown away by the impressive exploits of their star driver.
After tweeting they were ‘speechless’ as Hamilton took the chequered flag in style, they added: ‘WHAT A WAY TO DO IT, MATE. WHAT A WAY TO WIN YOUR SEVENTH WORLD TITLE!’.
Other members of the motorsport community swiftly offered congratulatory words.
Dario Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner, saluted the winning performance in Istanbul as a ‘masterclass’, while Dutch racing driver Giedo Van Der Garde posted a picture of himself on the podium alongside a youthful Hamilton and praised the Briton’s self-belief.
‘A masterclass today from @LewisHamilton to win his seventh World championship. So so impressive,’ tweeted Franchitti.
Van Der Garde wrote: ‘Who would’ve thought that kid would go on to win 7 World Championships. I guess you did. Congratulations champ, you wrote history again today. @LewisHamilton’.
Hamilton started his illustrious career in go-karts, with his racing financed by his father Anthony, who worked multiple jobs to afford it. Pictured: Hamilton on his way to victory in the British Cadet Championships in 1996
Hamilton had a very successful karting career, helped in part by his connection with McLaren, who he went on to race for between 2007 and 2012, winning his maiden F1 title in 2008. Pictured: A young Hamilton celebrates victory at the Buckmore Park kart circuit in 1996 alongside the then McLaren boss Ron Dennis (left) and formula one driver David Coulthard
French driver Romain Grosjean, who retired from the race on lap 52, had expected Schumacher’s record to stand the test of time.
He wrote: ‘Congrats @LewisHamilton Didn’t think Michael record was ever going to be equalize. Very impressive Congrats @MercedesAMGF1 for the incredible work also.’
Lewis Hamilton admits he felt Turkish Grand Prix was ‘falling through my fingers’ before securing stunning victory to earn record-equalling seventh world championship
Lewis Hamilton admitted that he thought the Turkish Grand Prix was ‘falling through his fingers’ before his heroic comeback to claim his seventh Formula One World Championship.
Hamilton drove a near perfect second half of the race as he braved just one pit stop in slippy, wet conditions in Turkey whilst his team-mate Valtteri Bottas struggled further down the pack.
‘I’m a bit lost for words,’ an emotional Hamilton explained after his 94th Grand Prix victory.
‘I think naturally I have to start with saying a huge thank you to all the guys that are here and the guys that are back at our factories.
‘The journey we have been on has been monumental. I want to say a big thank you to team LH for sticking with me all my years and my family.
‘I dreamed of this when I was young. It’s important for kids to dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You’ve got to never give up and never doubt yourself.
‘We knew it was already such a difficult weekend. We knew we were on the backfoot and we did the best we could. We learnt a lot. There’s no blame game. We continue to try and improve our communication so we can make moves forward.’
England’s football team were short but sweet in their praise for the Stevenage-born driver, simply writing: ‘Congratulations, Lewis!’ followed by a clapping emoji.
Former England striker Gary Lineker hailed Hamilton’s display as ‘stunning’, adding a goat emoji at the end of his tweet.
‘Congratulations to @LewisHamilton on equalling Michael Schumacher’s 7 world titles,’ wrote Lineker.
‘What an achievement. Has to be right up there alongside our greatest ever sportspeople. Stunning.’
However, not everyone in the football community was as complimentary.
Former Republic of Ireland striker Stephen Elliott dismissed suggestions Hamilton is Britain’s greatest sportsman as ‘ludicrous’ in a tweet questioning the worthiness of Formula One.
‘Maybe an unpopular opinion and I may be in the minority but some people claiming Lewis Hamilton as the greatest British sportsman ever is ludicrous. He drives a car around in circles. Ok, he seems to be the best at it but still!!! £formula1,’ wrote the well-travelled former Sunderland and Wolves player.
On a more positive note, there was praise from the political world.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quick to hail Hamilton’s success, saying he had done Britain proud.
He tweeted: ‘An impressive victory – well done @LewisHamilton! You have made us all so proud.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hailed Hamilton’s feat as a ‘world beating achievement’, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden offered a similar sentiment.
‘Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton a world beating achievement. The UK should be very proud of his achievements and British Motorsport,’ wrote Wallace.
Dowden posted: ‘Huge congratulations to @LewisHamilton 7 times @F1 World Champion and won in style £TurkishGP One of our greatest sports stars.’
Meanwhile, the man himself dedicated his achievements to his fans, family and friends in a series of tweets.
‘7X Formula 1 World Champion. Wow. To everyone that has supported me along the way, this is for you,’ posted Hamilton.
‘To my incredible family, where do I even start? I am eternally grateful for your unconditional love, sacrifices and support to my closest friends that have made this challenging season more bearable by continuously lifting my spirits, thank you, this year would have been so much harder without you.
‘To every rival that has pushed me to grow and become better, thank you, I share this with you too…’
After his incredible achievement, praise poured in on social media from sporting colleagues – including former teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg – and politicians. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Hamilton had ‘made us all so proud’
IN NUMBERS: HOW LEWIS HAMILTON COMPARES TO MICHAEL SCHUMACHER
Lewis Hamilton has emulated Michael Schumacher by winning his seventh world championship.
Here is how two of the sport’s most successful drivers compare to one another.
Fastest laps: 77
Win ratio: 30 per cent
Fastest laps: 53
Win ratio: 35 per cent
Schumacher won seven championships, two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and then an unprecedented five on the spin for Ferrari at the turn of the century.
A controversial driver, he collided with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve at the 1994 and 1997 championship deciders, before he was adjudged to have deliberately parked his Ferrari at Monaco in 2006 to prevent Fernando Alonso from setting a lap in qualifying.
Little is known of Schumacher’s current medical health following a skiing crash on holiday with his family in the French Alps in 2013.
Hamilton was the youngest world champion when he won his first title in 2008 – a record since broken by Sebastian Vettel – and 12 years later he is firmly among the elite.
His tally of victories, pole positions and podiums is the most ever and he is set to gun for a record-breaking eighth championship next season.