After winning his sixth F1 championship, the question surrounding Lewis Hamilton is, will he be the greatest of all time?
After finishing second at the American Grand Prix on Sunday, to secure his fifth title in six spellbinding years, Hamilton moved ahead of the great Juan Manuel Fangio as statistically the second greatest driver of all time.
The 34-year-old Briton is now within just one triumph of Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven.
“I am working on a masterpiece and I haven’t quite finished it yet,” said Hamilton.
“I definitely feel like this has been my best season, but it takes a long time to master a craft and while I feel like I am mastering it, there is still more to master, there is more to add and more pieces of the puzzle.
“There are going to be ups and downs along the way but I feel like I have the best tools to deal with those.”
Hamilton has at least one more year to run on his £40million-a-year Mercedes deal, and has already committed to remaining in the sport beyond next season.
“Lewis is still very motivated and you can see he wants to win every single race,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who has overseen Hamilton’s dominance of the sport.
“As long as that is the case, he can go for more. We need to provide him with a good car. There is no limit.”
Hamilton started from fifth on the grid here, but, following the combination of a fine start and a one-stop strategy, came within just four laps of securing the championship in style.
Valtteri Bottas fought his way past Hamilton on the 52nd lap for victory before the British driver managed to hold off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to take the chequered flag as runner-up.
After removing his helmet and balaclava, Hamilton, 34, took a moment to compose himself before standing on top of his Silver Arrows and lapping up the adulation of the Austin crowd. He ran over to his Mercedes mechanics and collected a British flag.
Hamilton’s father Anthony, step-mother Linda and mother Carmen were underneath the podium as their son celebrated another world crown, with Schumacher’s record – one that many believed would go untouched – now firmly in reach.
“I definitely thought that getting anywhere near Michael was so far-fetched,” added Hamilton. “But it is so far away that I still cannot really comprehend it.
“I don’t want to build the idea of getting to seven because I want to enjoy right now. Tomorrow is not a given. We should all enjoy each day because one day you are here and one day you are not.
“I believe I have the ability to continue to grow and do more with this team and within Formula One so [Schumacher’s record] would be the target.
“But time will tell. I am focused on being as fit and healthy as I can be and try to enjoy this beautiful journey that we call life.”