Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver brings up his half-century of wins

Lewis Hamilton mosaic of race victories

Lewis Hamilton has made more Formula 1 history as his victory in the United States gives him his 50th race win – a figure reached by only two other drivers.

Michael Schumacher (91) and Alain Prost (51) are the two other men to rack up a half-century of victories.

Things to have happened in the tme taken to win 50 races<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Germany’s Schumacher and Frenchman Prost won 11 world titles between them, putting three-time champion Hamilton in rarefied company.

BBC Sport takes a look at the key stats behind Hamilton’s race wins, and picks out five of his best victories.

How long did it take them to get to 50?

Graphic of how long it took Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton to get to 50 wins<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

‘Undoubtedly an all-time great driver’

Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career is one of many illustrations of the problems with using statistics alone to define a driver’s “greatness”.

In the first seven years of Hamilton’s career, he amassed 22 wins; three years on and he is on the verge of taking his 50th. The exponential increase in ratio owing to nothing other than being comfortably the faster driver in the only car capable of winning.

Is Hamilton three times better as a driver now than he was in 2013? Of course not, any more than Michael Schumacher (91 wins) was more than twice as good as Ayrton Senna (41).

This, though, is not to say that Hamilton is not an all-time great driver – that, he undoubtedly is.

Hamilton's win ratio compared to other drivers<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

His biggest strength is his blistering speed, founded on an incredible feel for a car on the limits of adhesion during the braking phase for a corner. Jenson Button had it right when he said Hamilton is “one of the fastest drivers there has ever been”.

His raw pace is right up there with the very best. Senna, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio – he’s that good.

All drivers have their flaws and Hamilton is no exception – he has bizarrely off-form days; he is not as rounded a talent as some, or as complete.

But is there a faster driver with more natural talent in F1 today? Almost certainly not.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

Hamilton’s favourite circuits

Hamilton's favourite circuits graphic<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Five of the best wins – 2007 Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton battling with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

2008 Monaco Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

2008 British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the 2008 British Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

2012 United States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2012 United States Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg battle at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

And one that got away…

Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

‘Awe-inspiring performances’

Good though win number 50 was, numbers alone don’t accurately reflect the career of Lewis Hamilton. When the Englishman is on form, as he was in Austin on Sunday, he’s sublime and his wins take on greater significance than a mere pot in his trophy cabinet.

He told us on Radio 5 live that F1 is a perennial search for perfection, and just occasionally he achieves it. Think Silverstone 2008, Monaco ’08, Turkey ’10; all of them awe-inspiring performances. Peaks such as these are so high that he’s unable to repeat them at every race, but he should remembered as much for them as for mere statistics.

Tom Clarkson – 5 live F1

Only one win in Spain, but not bad elsewhere

Where Hamilton has won his 50 races
Canada 5Hungary 5
Britain 4China 4
USA 5Japan 3
Italy 3Germany 3
Singapore 2Abu Dhabi 2
Australia 2Bahrain 2
Belgium 2Monaco 2
Russia 2Austria 1
Malaysia 1Spain 1
Turkey 1

He’s won every year…

Wins per season
2007: 42008: 5
2009: 22010: 3
2011: 32012: 4
2013: 12014: 11
2015: 102016: 7 (to date)

Only Button got the better of him (so far)…

Points differential to team-mate
2007: Fernando Alonso: 0 (finished ahead of Alonso as he had five second-place finishes to Alonso’s four)
2008: Heikki Kovalainen: +45
2009: Heikki Kovalainen: +27
2010: Jenson Button: +26
2011: Jenson Button: -43
2012: Jenson Button: +2
2013: Nico Rosberg: +18
2014: Nico Rosberg: +67
2015: Nico Rosberg: +59

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