Lewis Hamilton arrived in the sport back in 2007. But it didn’t take him long to leave an impact.
He was nearly 22 years of age when he scored his maiden career podium: a P3. The venue was the Melbourne-bound Australian Grand Prix and it was his maiden Formula 1 race.
And what do we see a little over fifteen years hence the 2007 race, which was the season-opener?
Lewis Hamilton has scored yet another podium, the 186th of his career. The occasion, much like the Australian Grand Prix back in the day, is no less significant.
Just a few hours ago, the great Briton competed in what was his 300th Formula 1 Grand Prix at Le Castellet, France.
Having scored a podium in his first-ever race and a podium in his three hundredth, Hamilton’s blazed a trail for many to follow.
Though, make no mistake.
The 37-year-old, who was practically a young up and coming talent back then is the holder of the most envy-inspiring record in the sport: seven world titles.
The 300 Grands Prix journey has unfurled, lest we forget, 103 race wins and not to forget, 60 fastest laps.
So lanky is the length of the skyscraper of achievements that Hamilton has built that staring at it can cause neck pain. He’s raced hard but fair. He’s commandeered his Mercedes racing team to a position of iron-fisted dominance ever since the start of the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1 racing.
Forget not that he’s beaten not just his own teammates, think Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas but nearly demoralised opponents from other hugely popular racing outfits.
How can one forget Red Bull? How does one ignore Ferrari?
Ask the quartet of Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen and Ricciardo, just some of the names on the grid who, Lewis beat, time and again as he’d smash the grid’s popular names on way to clinching more titles with Mercedes (than any other driver in the team from the onset of 2014).
Before the heartbreaking outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix came about, Lewis Hamilton was nearly on par- if not ahead- of his then archrival Max Verstappen.
It wasn’t until the very last lap of the salubrious season-finale that Hamilton was usurped by the Dutch driver, 2022’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen.
In the seasons before, picture 2020 and 2019, Hamilton lorded the grid winning as many as eleven races in both the seasons, the most by any driver back in the day.
Here he is again. It’s 2022. The season is past its halfway stage. Lewis doesn’t really have the car with which to claim what seemed right at the beginning the path to that eighth world title.
2022, not a smooth sail
He might have begun the 2022 Formula 1 season with an important podium at Bahrain, but has had to contend with lowly, somewhat lackadaisical results.
The very driver who won the sport’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix scored a tenth this time around. The very driver who emerged second last year at Emilia Romagna, couldn’t go better than thirteenth this time around.
But these haven’t been the only disappointments for the Stevenage born this year; Hamilton’s biggest predicament is the porpoising issue of the current Mercedes.
Not finding enough straight line speed, struggling in corners aren’t just the only concerns for the great driver. He’s actually made no bones about the fact that each time he takes to the car, porpoising or excessive bouncing leads to unbearable back pain, enough even to miss the next race.
And yet, Hamilton’s fought through it all.
Which is why when the experienced Mercedes marksman clinched second at the just-concluded French Grand Prix.
After all, speed isn’t the only secret ingredient of Hamilton’s whirlwind success; it’s the love for a challenge and the rigour to fight it out.
With four podiums in a row (a first for Mercedes this year), starting from Canada, Great Britain, Austria and now, France, the Hamilton of old, as seen in 2020 and 2019, is evident.
He can be seen by everyone. But what’s also on display is the tireless desire to improve, to stay relevant.
And what could be more laudable than this ability to bounce back, importantly in an age and at a time where LH 44, as he’s often called, isn’t getting any younger?
And maybe when despite the massive improvement, evident from Montreal onwards may still never be enough to claim that eighth crown?