Who Can Stop Lewis Hamilton From Making It Number Seven

With international sport currently in a state of flux, schedules and best-laid plans have gone out of the window and with cross-border disciplines being the worst affected, their very existence has been placed under threat.

None more so than the pinnacle of Motor Racing and with the F1 calendar being decimated over the past few months, many wondered whether the 2020 edition of the championship would even go ahead.

Thankfully, a condensed calendar has been cultivated and although it is a lot slimmer when compared to previous years, there are enough races for the itinerary to be given full World Championship status.

Just eight races have been confirmed at the time of writing (although there is scope for additions along the way) and with all of them being confined to Europe, F1 will potentially lose the continental flavour that attracts so many.

However, the show is set to go on and that means another tussle for the top step of the podium and with Lewis Hamilton clearly being the man to beat in 2020, a seventh driver’s crown looks a genuine possibility.

Should the Mercedes pilot manage that accolade, he would go on to equal the tally set by the legendary German Michael Schumacher and should that be the case, the defending champion will enter the discussion of the discipline’s greatest ever driver.

Comparing drivers in different eras is always something of a thankless task and it’s almost impossible to compare the talents of Schumacher and Hamilton, let alone that of the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio.

Better known as ‘El Maestro’, he would go on to win five World Driver’s Championships during the 1950’s and not until nearly fifty years later, would that trophy haul be equalled by then Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher.

Fast forward to 2018 and that was the year in which Hamilton joined the illustrious five-star club and he would go on to make it number six last year, after swatting away the challenge from rivals both within his team and outside it.

In addition to that, the F1 circus has been the personal plaything of the 35-year-old over the past few years and were it not for then-teammate Nico Rosberg, claiming the 2016 crown for himself, Hamilton would have won the last six championships in a row.

Critics will argue that the Brit only is successful because he has the best car and although there is a modicum of truth to that, he still needs to possess the ability to get the maximum out of it – an ability he certainly is not short of.

While it seems as if Mercedes have not missed a step in their plans for 2020 and they will be looking to pick up where they have left off over the last few years, something that will only further continue their dominance of the sport.

Whether that dominance of the sport is completely healthy is up for debate and although a one-team show is not necessarily good for business overall, hiding F1 behind a global paywall is arguably more damaging.

With Hamilton’s home broadcaster Sky Sports having exclusive UK rights to the sport, the audience levels are not as high as when he won the first of his World Driver’s Championships back in 2008 – a win that was claimed in dramatic fashion at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

While although there may not be as many eyes on F1 these days, the passion within those who still pay attention has not dissipated and if anything, will now only increase after such an enforced period of starvation.

Which means, who if anyone can stop Hamilton and his charge to title number seven? Could the threat come from his own teammate Valtteri Bottas and if not the Finn, could it be from either Red Bull or Ferrari.

If the challenge is not one steeped in Silver, then the two main protagonists will undoubtedly be the pair of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc – a pair that look set to lead F1 into its next global generation.

However, that generation only comes around when Hamilton decides that enough is enough and that decision, does not materialise until he levels or perhaps even surpasses the efforts of Michael Schumacher.

This means for the current F1 king to be toppled, it is going to have to take something extra special and with the Mercedes chariot seemingly looking flawless, the wait for a new champion to be crowned may have to wait just a little longer.

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