At last night’s French Grand Prix, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton entered his 300th race, becoming the sixth driver in Formula 1 to do so. He now joins the 300s club with five other drivers:
- Kimi Raikkonen (349)
- Fernando Alonso (344 and counting)
- Rubens Barrichello (322)
- Jenson Button (306)
- Michael Schumacher (306)
These names are some of the most iconic in F1 history, but every single one of them had to fight their way to the top against at least one major rival. And Lewis Hamilton has definitely had his fair share of rivalries.
So, we’re running it back to three (rather dramatic) rivalries Lewis has fought through in the span of his 300 races in F1.
Perhaps his biggest challenger in his career was his own teammate, Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg and Hamilton were teammates at Mercedes from 2013 to 2016, and their partnership was hardly peaceful. Throughout the 2014 to 2016 seasons, Mercedes had the two fastest cars on track—no one could keep up.
This ultimately left Rosberg and Hamilton to fight each other. Lewis won both 2014 and 2015 World Championships by considerable margins—by 67 and 59 points, respectively. Those two years built a lot of tension between the two.
We can never forget how Nico threw a cap at Lewis at the US Grand Prix in 2015.
It was around 4:00AM in Manila, and sleepy as we all we were, this beef certainly woke us up.
In 2016, the title fight was much closer, which led to some pretty exciting battles on track. Case-in-point: The Spanish Grand Prix collision.
You can feel the frustration in Lewis’ double-handed face palm as his car skidded across.
Rosberg eventually won the 2016 battle by a slim five points, despite Hamilton trying every trick in the book to stop this from happening. In the lead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, defying team orders, he deliberately slowed down to back up Rosberg, in hopes that another driver would overtake him.
Fair enough, Lewis.
Theirs was one of the most dramatic F1 rivalries in recent years, and we were sad to see it come to an end when Nico announced his retirement right after his championship win.
Though Lewis hardly stopped making rivals there.
The season after Rosberg’s win saw another team beginning to look competitive enough to take on Mercedes. It was Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel won the first Grand Prix of 2017, with both Mercedes drivers, Lewis and Valtteri Bottas behind him. This marked the start of a new rivalry between two World Champions, Hamilton and Vettel.
That season’s heated battle hit its peak in Baku, when behind a safety car, Vettel argued that Hamiton had brake tested him, causing the Ferrari to ram into the back of the Mercedes. Out of his frustration, Sebastian pulled up next to Lewis and deliberately bumped his tires with his.
The eyes of all F1 fans widened at the sight of this. But despite many believing Sebastian, Lewis still ended up with the 2017 World Championship after the Ferrari’s retirement in the Japanese Grand Prix.
2018 was hailed the “Battle for Fifth”, with the top contenders, Vettel and Hamilton, both fighting for their fifth World Championship. But, unlike the previous season, 2018 showed a friendlier side of the banter between the two champions.
We love seeing the more playful sides to the seemingly serious drivers. But with Mercedes having the more reliable and quicker car, Lewis won the championship before the season had ended.
In the end, Ferrari just did not have enough to match the Mercedes. So a new challenger stepped in.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, the Mercedes dominated once again in similar fashion as their Rosberg-Hamilton days, this time around, seeing the battle between Bottas and Hamilton.
But when Bottas couldn’t best his teammate, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull rose to the ocassion.
In 2021, Red Bull saw the boost they had been waiting for ever since they fell out of contention in 2014. With cars able to match the Mercedes, and a driver in Verstappen up to the task to take on a seven-time World Champion, 2021 proved to be one of the most exciting seasons in F1 history.
The entire season was back-and-forth, the two taking turns topping qualifying sessions and races. Their close battle throughout produced some of the most exhilirating battles on-track, often leading to some crazy collisions, like the British Grand Prix crash.
Max had words to say about this crash (and Lewis’ celebrations after his race win), building the tension in the battle for the championship.
And of course, we can’t forget the biggest controversy: the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The final race of the season saw the peak of this rivalry, where both drivers entered equal on points.
Though Max qualified in pole position, his slow start allowed Lewis to take the lead. Max trailed the Mercedes throughout most of the race, until a crash forced a safety car on the track. When safety car was to be pulled in, the cars in between Lewis and Max were allowed through, but the rest stayed in their place.
When the safety car finally pulled in, Max on the fresher set of tires, eventually got the overtake on the final lap of the race, propelling him to his first World Championship.
Mercedes lodged several complaints, arguing that the safety car should have ended with all cars allowed to unlap themselves, but none to their avail. Verstappen remained champion.
History in 300 races
It can be argued that with Lewis’ many rivalries on track (these don’t even begin to cover the tension he had with Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas) made his career what it is. And he isn’t even done competing.
Lewis Hamilton will go down as one of the best F1 drivers in the sport’s history.
In his seven World Championships, and 300 races, he has accomplished a lot. Which of his rivals and races is your favorite?