Hamilton’s record-breaking run will be judged by lack of competition – Hill

By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent
·3-min read

Damon Hill fears Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking run will be judged by a lack of serious competition in Formula One.

Hamilton has raced to 92 career victories and is on the verge of equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time haul of seven world championships.

He heads into this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola with a 77-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the standings.

It keeps the Briton on course to win his sixth title in seven seasons at Mercedes. He has also won 71 times with the sport’s all-conquering team since his transfer from McLaren in 2013.

“There is a risk that Lewis’ achievements will be measured against the intensity of his competition,” 1996 world champion Hill told the PA news agency.

“He had to fight hard against (former team-mate) Nico Rosberg but he pretty much had the upper hand on him most of the time. Valtteri is doing a solid job but he cannot keep up with Lewis during the races.

“Mercedes have totally dominated this era and Lewis is not being challenged.

“He demolishes everyone but we are missing the chance to see the best of him because if he had to fight hard, that is when you see the great drivers shine. You cannot keep saying look at the king’s lovely new coat over and over again.”

Bottas is set to partner Hamilton for a fifth-consecutive season in 2021, and with changes to the regulations put on hold for 12 months following the coronavirus pandemic, Mercedes are expected to continue their domination into another campaign.

Max Verstappen is the only driver on the same level as Hamilton, but the 23-year-old Dutchman is tied into a long-term Red Bull contract.

Hill has called for an urgent overhaul of the sport’s governance, taking power away from the teams to ensure the best drivers are in the best machinery.

The 60-year-old continued: “People wanted to see Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the same team, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet in the same team and now they want to see Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the same team. That is F1’s version of a boxing prize fight.

“If we cannot get the teams to be equal then you must have these drivers in the same team and generate a show. But we have gone through a period where teams have being frightened of putting two stallions in the same stable.

Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, wants to see Verstappen partnered with Hamilton
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, wants to see Verstappen partnered with Hamilton (David Davies/PA)

“Mercedes want to keep Lewis sweet. He is the key to everything. He is so talented, he brings everything to the team, and the team are not going to want to upset him.

“So how do you create a system whereby it makes no difference to Mercedes if they have another driver who is a rival to Lewis?

“Let’s say Max finishes second in the championship, perhaps he should then have the opportunity to transfer himself into the Mercedes team? Or maybe the fans should be involved, saying we will pick the showdown we want to see.

“It needs imagination, it needs vision and not simply for the teams to have a hold on the drivers.”