Lewis Hamilton is on the cusp of achieving more extraordinary records as the new Formula One season fires into action in Australia this weekend.
The Briton is just one world championship away from matching the legendary Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven crowns. A record that seemed unreachable at one stage.
Hamilton has clinched six world titles since 2008, and has triumphed in five of the last six seasons with Mercedes.
The 35-year-old is heading into his 14th campaign and looks to be enjoying his racing more than ever.
While other sport stars tend to lose motivation and general sharpness as the years wear on, Hamilton continues to hum with sporting godliness.
He has averaged 10 victories a year since 2014 and trails Schumacher’s record 91 race victories by just seven. Such is his class behind the wheel of the new W11, you could put your house on Hamilton winning another 10 races again this term.
The Stevenage man has insisted over the years that he is not chasing any records, however he did acknowledge last year that matching Schumacher would be a serious feat.
While entering the new campaign as the obvious favourite, it will go some way to topping last term when he won 11 times en route to securing the championship with two races remaining.
Around the paddock, the Monaco resident looks a more relaxed figure, enjoys the calm persona of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and is genuinely happy with the people around him at Mercedes. Off track interests with Puma, Bose and Tommy Hilfiger have also added to this laid-back, yet clinical attitude in the heat of battle.
Previously linked with a move to Ferrari, it now appears Hamilton will keep his loyalty to the Silver Arrow and pen a lucrative three-year extension, rumoured to be worth $60 million per season.
Of the competition, Bottas will play second fiddle to the former McLaren man yet again, finishing 87 points behind Hamilton in second place last season.
However, the Finn will be expected to improve on his mixed 2019 – where he won four times – or risk losing his seat to Williams driver George Russell.
If there is a genuine challenger to contain Hamilton’s supremacy that may come from the Red Bull, second fastest in single-lap pace during pre-season testing and looking well-balanced on the corners.
In Max Verstappen, the Milton Keynes outfit possess one of the best drivers in the business and a man who has all the traits of a future world champion.
The Dutchman has eight career wins but goes into 2020 with the real prospect of more, his fearless driving ability and controlled aggression among his standout features.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will be expected to join the title fight at some point, although the Ferrari’s appear a shell of their stellar form of 12 months ago.
An increased speed through corners has led to their straight-line pace being affected, a sacrifice the Scuderia believe will make for a better all-round car across the season.
It will be a year that captures our attention and imagination right until the very end. However, Hamilton should have enough class to scoop that illustrious seventh world title and cement his status as one of the all-time greats.
It all starts in Melbourne this weekend.
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