Those who spend their day on social media trolling others; reducing them to a subject of endless memes may never understand the guts needed to be a certain Lewis Hamilton. Only when you stand in the boots of a man who now seems poised to clinch his fifth title does it become certain that the man from Stevenage has come a really long way to be where he is. And that in walking this onerously long distance- starting from obscurity and uncertainty to being on top- rests the greatness of Lewis Hamilton.
Where can Lewis possibly be, other than being on the top of the world?
That Lewis once was literally a nobody, miles adrift from realizing his goal of breaking into the top-echelons of Grand Prix racing to beating legends like Raikkonen, Button, Alonso, and now, Vettel well into rising to the front of the grid speaks of the mega journey he’s undertaken. It also proves there’s no challenge unattempted by the Mercedes driver in reigning at the front. It is in his capacity to endure- first noticeable in his fighting comeback at the closing stages of Interlagos in 2008- that one glimpsed at the greatness of Lewis Hamilton.
To be frank, the number of times one’s gotten used to hearing- Get in there Lewis– the familiar words on the team radio may certainly inspire a piece of troll for anyone who might’ve undermined Lewis’ presence right at the front: that part of the track that now seems so accustomed to Hamilton administering his ‘Hammertime!’
Having said that Sochi’s win in 2018 leaves a lot of scope for Lewis Hamilton-bashers or doubters to prevail. Isn’t it?
Was Lewis Hamilton the best driver of the day at Sochi? Did he put in the fastest lap at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix? Probably, Lewis wasn’t even deserving of the win at Russia. Well, at least, not when you compare the sentiments stoked by the second-placed Valtteri Bottas. But in here lies the enigma that marks the greatness of Lewis Hamilton.
No driver on the grid, not the youngest on the track or even the oldest on the grid would’ve pushed so arduously to reclaim the position that was conceded to Vettel- post the pit stop- other than Hamilton himself.
But implicit in Lewis’ 70th overall win was the one move that typified Vettel’s downfall at a track where both he and his Ferrari have failed to figure out a way to win.
When Lewis dived into the inside of Sebastian, after making a mess of the great slipstream he initially had, Hamilton didn’t just pass the Ferrari. His first attempt at grabbing second was a lost cause. His second would be ‘Hammertime’ in bold.
The greatness of Lewis Hamilton is exemplified in his standing as a great of the grid. He may have been driving the Silver Arrow; but that move over Vettel was solid gold.
Surely along with Lewis’, several hundreds of thousands of fans’ hearts may have sunk given Mercedes’ overcut on Ferrari failed with Hamilton seeing Vettel pass him upon exiting the pits.
Then, the manner of his comeback, in what was a closely-fought fight for second was just stuff of legends. It’s, in a way, the exact replica of the effort Vettel exhibited at the latter stages of the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix, where he passed Hamilton at the stiff right-hander at Spielberg.
Little wonder then where the two stand where they currently do on the standings- isn’t it?
When Lewis Hamilton arrived at Sochi, the scene of his two former victories, prior to the start of the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, he had a 40 point lead over Sebastian Vettel.
Let’s simply rewind the clocks back to Spa-Francorchamps. Perhaps that answers the greatness of Lewis Hamilton. Who would’ve wondered given Ferrari’s ominous form at Belgium that yielded at a heroic win for Vettel that come Russia and Hamilton would enjoy a gap as wide as 40 points?
In this tumultuous sojourn starting from Belgium to Sochi, Lewis tamed a nearly unstoppable Kimi, let’s not forget only after conceding the track position to him at Monza, and not before seeing the battle for qualifying being lost to a man he played virtually on the PlayStation.
After that, Lewis would go on to conquer the night safari at Singapore. That wasn’t just a win; that was a mega triumph. How else would you describe that effort that resulted in a win by a margin of nearly 9-seconds over someone like a Verstappen?
Hamilton’s great run in what’s clearly becoming a Mercedes-dominated era pays homage to the social-media tagline that thrives akin to the lotus amid contaminated waters: Still I Rise!
While surely there were moments he may have wanted to keep his cool about, for instance, “Strange Tactics”- what were you thinking champ- Lewis, nevertheless has ruled with an iron fist.
For some reason- and Ferrari fans may not be able to evade the feeling- each time Hamilton decorates a lap with phenomenal power and persistence, it seems he reduces the fighter that lies somewhere in Vettel. Lewis, especially during his triumphs as seen at Hockenheim, Hungaroring, Baku wins not on the track but also in the battle of the mind. It’s the dent in confidence that one suffers most from, of the kinds Rosberg was miraculously able to avoid in the fighting stages of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when Hamilton intentionally brought Vettel close to Rosberg by deliberately slowing down the pace at the front.
Incidentally, this is the same bloke he was unable to crack- as if Vettel, post his dominant wins at Melbourne and Sakhir- was a program to be hacked.
Now, at Sochi, the greatness of Lewis Hamilton was magnified by the relative comfort he exhibited in completing, what in the end, seemed a drive akin to a walk in the park.
Surely, his team helped him.
And for that Lewis was utterly grateful to Valtteri- who, one cannot help but feel sad for- and in the end, the entire Toto Wolff-led outfit.
But you’d rarely shy away from placing your bet on a driver who’s as bankable as Lewis Hamilton- isn’t it?