The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, has paid tribute to Lewis Hamilton after the Briton surpassed Michael Schumacher’s record of Formula One race wins. In winning the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton took his 92nd victory and Wolff believes such was the scale of Hamilton’s achievements they may not be fully appreciated until after he retires.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013, the same year as Wolff, and the pair have built a very close relationship. Hamilton recorded 21 of his wins for his first team, McLaren, but has 71 victories for Mercedes with superb consistency. Since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, Hamilton has at least 10 wins a season every year, with the exception of 2017 when he secured the title with nine victories.
“I am never getting bored of questions about Lewis,” Wolff said in Portimão. “Because in 10 or 20 years we will look back and really acknowledge what a special driver he is.”
He went on to reiterate this opinion to the BBC on Monday. “When you look at accomplishments there are two drivers that stand out,” he said. “That is Michael in his generation and Lewis this time. Sometimes you only realise after his career has ended what his actual achievements were.”
Hamilton leads Valtteri Bottas by 77 points in the world championship and is well placed to secure the title in the next two races. The next round is at Imola this week and if Hamilton finishes the following meeting, the Turkish GP, 78 points ahead he will take the championship with three rounds remaining and equal Schumacher’s record of seven titles.
The 35-year-old has yet to renew his contract with Mercedes that finishes at the end of this season but has repeatedly insisted he expects it to be concluded without complication. Wolff has yet to agree his new deal with Mercedes and has yet to confirm whether he will continue in the central role as team principal, but is confident any decision on his part would not affect Hamilton’s future.
“We have no concern, there is no reason he wouldn’t want to be in the quickest car, and we want him in the car, so it is a perfect match,” he said. “We are a good team the two of us, but if I was to go there is a fantastic group of people at Brackley and Brixworth and they would do pretty well without me. He needs to continue his career and if we can do it together that would be wonderful.”
Mercedes are also poised to make history. They lead Red Bull by 209 points and can win the constructors’ championship at Imola. If they do so it will be their seventh consecutive title, beating the record Ferrari set with its run from 1999 to 2004.