Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has taken his tally of Formula One wins to 90 and is now on the brink of equalling Michael Schumacher’s record.
The Briton’s latest victory, in a Tuscan Grand Prix that was twice red-flagged and re-started, left him one shy of the Ferrari great – a record once held up as a milestone to withstand the test of time.
Hamilton won from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and first-time podium finisher Alex Albon of Red Bull in a first-ever Mugello race which saw the safety car out in the opening lap after two cars went out.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth in his Renault.
Bottas had snatched the lead from pole sitter Hamilton at the original start but the champion then used Bottas’ slipstream in the second standing start after the red flag to fly past the Finn, and preserved the lead through a third standing start after another red flag period in the later stages.
“Hectic,” said the 35-year-old when asked to sum up his afternoon at Ferrari-owned Mugello in central Italy.
“Such a roller-coaster ride, emotionally and physically.”
“It was all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day.”
Hamilton has won six races out of nine this season and, with a seventh title looking inevitable, the year has become a countdown to two of the greatest records in the sport — both owned by Schumacher.
There are eight races remaining and it is inconceivable that Hamilton will not win at least one more. He has been averaging 10 a season for the past six years now.
Schumacher, who has been out of the public eye since suffering severe head injuries in a December 2013 ski accident, took his seventh title with Ferrari in 2004 and last win in 2006.
Hamilton can pull alongside at the next race in Sochi, Russia, in two weeks’ time.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” he said.
“It is ultimately a privilege to be in the position and have such a great team and a car to be able to deliver weekend in and weekend out. I am forever grateful to the people who continue to work hard. I’m just a link in the chain.
“Getting these wins is not easy when you have a great driver in Valtteri pushing you to the limit. I never thought that I would be here, that’s for sure.”
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