Now a seven-time F1 champion, Lewis Hamilton has won 95 grands prix. More than any driver in the history of the championship. A lot of those wins have been pretty straightforward – as they often are in many forms of motorsport. But there are a clutch of races that stand out to prove exactly why Hamilton deserves to be regarded as one of the all-time greats.
Lewis Hamilton's seven best F1 wins
7. Bahrain 2014
2014 was the year that had to vindicate Lewis Hamilton’s choice to move from his drive at McLaren – the team that had nurtured his career since he was a teenager and brought him his only F1 title – to a Mercedes team that had, to that point, won a total of four races since it bought Brawn at the end of 2009. Race one in Australia did not go well, his Mercedes engine dropped a cylinder on the start line and he had retired by lap two. Team-mate Nico Rosberg had won the race, convincingly, proving that there was pace in the car, but also building a 25-point gap to Hamilton after just one race. Come the third round in Bahrain Hamilton had used the Malaysian Grand Prix to get his eye in, with a comfortable victory over his team-mate, with very little challenge. But Rosberg still led the championship and took a relatively comfortable pole position in qualifying for round three.
Hamilton got the better start, leaving the tight chicane at the start of the Sakhir lap with the lead, and proceeded to pull out a gap. Rosberg bided his time as the pair pulled clear of the pack, with the German noticeably the faster of the two Mercedes cars. On lap 19 he attacked, threw his W05 up the inside of Hamilton and took the lead.
But Rosberg couldn’t get the car slowed down and Hamilton cut underneath him and left the opening complex back ahead. Come time to pit, Mercedes chose to split strategies, Hamilton taking the faster soft tyre, while Rosberg was moved onto the slower medium. It was down to Hamilton to pull out a lead while he had the time, which he duly did, finding himself nearly 10 seconds clear with 17 laps left to go. Rosberg remained in a strong position, with the softs expected to be at least a second a lap faster, and the German looking very comfortable. And then he got an extra boost – Pastor Maldonado decided Esteban Gutierrez’s car looked better upside down and out came the safety car. The leading pair took their stops, and Rosberg was now sitting pretty. On the better tyre with ten laps to go and right on his team-mate’s tail.
Rosberg attacked straight away, and Hamilton fended him off. No matter though, because Rosberg had the tyres, DRS and nine more shots. Again and again he got up behind Hamilton entering the main straight, opened his DRS and again and again Hamilton fought him off. It was the first real clash between the two team-mates and Hamilton had come out on top. As he would do for the rest of the next two seasons. Not only was it a brilliant, battling, performance, but it set out his stake to be the man to beat in F1 for years to come.
6. USA 2007
Aged just 22 Hamilton burst onto the F1 scene with a podium in his first race. And then four more in his next four races, putting his double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso out and leading the championship. At Canada in the sixth round of the season he clinched his first victory and a solid lead over Alonso in the championship. The seventh race of the year was at Indianapolis, the last F1 race to be held there. Hamilton, behind Alonso for the whole weekend, including the first two qualifying sessions, produced a storming Q3 lap to take pole by just over a tenth of a second.
Come the start of the race the two McLarens sped away, clearly the best cars of the weekend, with Alonso shadowing his young team-mate. In the mid-race Alonso attacked, pulling alongside Hamilton down the long drag to turn one. Hamilton held his ground, refusing to give up the place to Alonso despite the reputational gap. Hamilton would hold off Alonso for the rest of the race, crossing the line just 1.5 seconds clear to claim his second-ever victory, and second in a row.
The reason this race gets onto the list is the effect it had on Hamilton’s reputation, not only within the sport but in the team. McLaren in 2007 was meant to be set up around Fernando Alonso and his hunt for a third world championship. Wearing the number one on his car, Alonso reasonably expected to be the number one over a 22-year-old rookie. But suddenly not only was Hamilton winning races, he was leading the championship and refusing to budge when Alonso wanted past. This was self-confidence from a rookie the like of which hadn’t been seen in F1, perhaps, since Michael Schumacher’s bombastic early days in the 1990s. Hamilton was new to the sport, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t go head-to-head with the best.
5. Germany 2018
There remains much controversy about Hamilton’s win at the German Grand Prix in 2018. All revolving around the image of a replay of his Mercedes W09 bouncing across the curb and grass that separates the pitlane entry from race track at Hockenheim as Bono (race-engineer Peter Bonnington) shouted “In in in in in in in, STAY OUT” to him over the radio. Hamilton would be reprimanded for breaching regulations about pit entry, but many believe he should have been harsher punished.
Putting that aside, it was still one of Hamilton’s greatest drives. He suffered a hydraulics issue in Q1, leaving him unable to take part in any further qualifying sessions, and putting him 14 th on the grid as championship rival Sebastian Vettel stuck his Ferrari on pole.
Starting in the dry, but with rain forecast later, Vettel streaked away into a commanding lead over Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the second Ferrari of Kimi Räikkonen. Hamilton was fifth by lap 14 and looking like he could probably challenge for a podium or at least salvage a decent haul of points to stop his championship contenders from making up too much ground.
Then it began to rain. Not heavy rain, but more than enough to make some drivers jump onto wet tyres and throw a spanner into many a works. One driver who hit said spanner, was leader Sebastian Vettel, who slithered off the track at the Sachskurve and into the gravel. His race was over, and arguably his title chances in 2018. Out came the safety car and Bottas pitted for some fresh tyres – although a mix-up meant his stop took over 20 seconds – while Hamilton’s aforementioned pit-lane entry/exit left him out ahead, but still on the tyres he had put on much earlier in the race and with Bottas right on his tail when the Safety car went in.
On lap 58 Bottas attacked, hard, into the hairpin at turn 7, but Hamilton was able to fend him off. On lap 61 Bottas was warned by the team that he was not to attack Hamilton again, the aggression of that first attack perhaps leading team bosses worried about the cars taking each other out, and one of Hamilton’s greatest wins was assured.
4. Germany 2008
There’s something about Hamilton and Hockenheim that seems to make his team lose their heads. Not only was there the 2018 pit lane mess, but in 2019 Hamilton was left standing on the jacks for nearly a minute as Mercedes mechanics ran around like apparently headless chickens trying to source the then five-time champ some new tyres and a new nose. In 2008 though, it was McLaren’s turn to have a bit of brain fade at Hockenheim. Hamilton was by far and away the fastest man of the weekend, qualifying on pole and sprinting away to an 11.5 second lead after 35 laps.
But then the suspension on Timo Glock’s Toyota gave up the ghost and McLaren seemed to forget how to work. Rather than calling Hamilton in for his only stop when the safety car came out – when pretty much the entirety of the rest of the field did – Hamilton was left out to trot around behind the safety car alone. So he restarted the race in the lead, but with old tyres, zero gap to the cars behind and a pit stop still to come. That was when Hamilton got out what we could call his “Schumacher act”, that is the ability to, out of seemingly nowhere, just head down and pull out a string of qualifying laps. It’s a show we also saw at Imola this year, when Hamilton stayed out and hammered in the fast laps to make sure he would have come out in front of both Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, even if there hadn’t been a virtual safety car.
After nine laps hauling as far from the field as he could the time had come, Hamilton had to pit. He would come out fifth, despite his efforts, and with only 17 laps remaining. Over the next 15 laps Hamilton sliced his way past four cars, leaving only Nelson Piquet Jr. ahead, having made a smart call to pit earlier than most and found himself in a convincing lead. He caught and passed Piquet with a couple of laps to go and sealed an unlikely win, and one that was only possible because of Hamilton’s incredible pace in the latter part of the race.
3. Monaco 2019
“Bono my tyres are gone” has become a bit of a meme over the last few years. The regularity of Hamilton complaining about his tyres, only to then dole out a series of fastest laps that breaks the field has led to a mistrust of anything that the man from Stevenage says over the radio. But at Monaco in 2019, there was no denying that Hamilton’s rubber was in trouble.
The race started as normal, Hamilton leading away from pole. But then on lap 11 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc touched the wall trying to overtake Nico Hulkenberg and punctured a tyre. The broken tyre then proceeded to rip the Ferrari apart, and the safety car came out to pick up the debris. The leading cars all dutifully dove to the pits. Bottas, Verstappen and Vettel all put on the hard tyres, expecting to go to the end of the race, before Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas, gaining him a five second penalty – to be added to his time at the end of the race. But for some reason, Mercedes elected to put Hamilton onto the medium tyres, undoubtedly the faster rubber, but standing no real chance of lasting the remaining 67 laps. Thus began a game of cat and mouse. Verstappen, behind Hamilton, was desperate to get past so he could pull a five second gap and negate his penalty, Hamilton wanted to stay ahead for obvious reasons, but also needed to make sure his tyres could last until the end.
Hamilton proceeded to run the tactical race of his life, allowing Verstappen to crawl all over the back of his Mercedes W10 for most of the lap to manage his tyres, but saving his hybrid boost and his real hard traction for the times he was about to enter a DRS zone, or through the tunnel, where he knew Verstappen would get a chance to get a run past.
Lap after lap Verstappen got closer, only to find no way past and drop back; running so close to Hamilton at times the two cars were basically one Merc-Bull. Then on lap 76 Verstappen finally got a proper run, Hamilton went defensive and protected the inside line, but somehow seemed to detect that Verstappen would overcook it. Rolling off the brake and moving to leave a small gap on the inside the inevitable collision went from “both cars out” to “wing rubs on tyre”. Hamilton survived the next two laps to take an emotional victory. The mental toll of managing over 60 laps of constant pressure on the first race after Hamilton had lost his and the whole Mercedes team’s mentor Nikki Lauda must have been unimaginable.
2. Great Britain 2008
Lewis Hamilton had proven to the world that it needed to pay attention to him in his debut season in 2007. But it was the 2008 British Grand Prix where the motorsport world was first told to sit back, relax, and just watch this. It was wet, almost 2000 British GP wet, and Hamilton had qualified only fourth, his Finnish team-mate Heikki Kovalainen taking pole after a scruffy qualifying for Hamilton left him behind the Red Bull of Mark Webber and the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen.
Off the line Hamilton shot forward, finding mountains more grip than any of his rivals, and challenged Kovalainen into the first corner at Copse. As Hamilton chased Kovalainen, who had just about retained the upper hand, all hell began to break loose. Webber spun entering the Hanger straight. Then Felipe Massa spun at Bridge, David Coulthard and Sebastian Vettel collided and retired, then Massa spun for a second time. By lap five (yes, all this happened before lap five) Hamilton attacked his team-mate into Stowe, taking the lead and building up a six second lead in the next five laps. At which point Kovalainen spun. Räikkonen took second, and in drying conditions began to close in on Hamilton. Both pitted on lap 21, but Hamilton took on new rubber while Räikkonen did not, hoping to retain the heat and slightly less tread on a drying track. But then it began to rain, Räikkonen couldn’t get his tyres to fire in the wet and joined the rest of the grid in spinning. From then Hamilton was not troubled.
He would win the race by over a minute, lapping all but the top three. It was a showcase of extraordinary control and a level head on race day that would come to be a hallmark of Hamilton’s racing later in his career.
1. Turkey 2020
This is the race that Lewis Hamilton had no right to win. The Mercedes W11 was bad in Turkey. The team could not find a setup that worked on a track that had a brand new surface that was leaking its oils all the time. Add in rain and the lack of confidence in the car underneath them left the until then dominant team floundering. Hamilton would qualify sixth, with Bottas three places back in ninth.
Nothing about the early laps of the race gave any inclination that the luck of the team based in Brackley was about to change. Hamilton made up no real positions, and when the leaders pitted even seemed to prove that he was no threat, by sliding off track from the lead, and rejoining in sixth when Sebastian Vettel tried to overtake him. Bottas meanwhile was having an adventurous day, having spun at the start and then again further around the first lap. But then the conditions started to change. Hamilton had switched to the intermediate tyres yhen everyone else did in the early stage of the race. But while others then pitted for new tyres as the intermediates began to suffer from overheating issues, Hamilton stayed out on his tyres. Managing to wring more and more pace out of them without damaging them. He passed several cars through not pitting, and then took the lead on track by passing Sergio Perez’s Racing Point. Perez would also go the rest of the race without pitting, but could not come close to matching the pace that Hamilton was somehow extracting from his tyres.
When the chequered flag waved Hamilton was over 30 seconds clear at the front of the field, still running the same set of intermediate tyres on a basically dry track – tyres that looked more like slicks than wet weather tyres when he pulled into parc ferme. As if to prove how astonishing Hamilton had been on that day, Bottas suffered a torrid event, ending the race 14th,over a lap down, and having spun six times in the race.
It was the race that made Hamilton a seven-time champion, and there could not have been a more fitting way to do it. After the race was over former rival, turned friend Sebastian Vettel expressed what everyone watching was thinking, that it had been a pleasure to watch Hamilton turn in one of the greatest performances of his career, if not in the history of F1. It was one of those days when the argument that “it’s just the car” was not only set aside, but completely smashed to smithereens.
Join our motorsport community
Get closer to motorsport at Goodwood! Join the GRRC Fellowship to be first in the queue for event tickets, to attend the GRRC-only Members' Meeting and to enjoy year-round, exclusive benefits.
Sign up for Motorsport news
Stay in the know with our newsletters that contain all the latest news, stories and event information.