I REMEMBER when Roger Federer surpassed Pete Sampras in terms of Grand Slam wins. I wasn’t in total denial. I mean how could I feel anything negative towards the Swiss tennis sensation? He was clearly a gentleman who played the game with lots of skill and equal amounts of class. Furthermore, he steered clear of controversy.
And I figure, milestones are meant to be matched and broken, right?
I remember when Kobe Bryant and then later, LeBron James, surpassed Michael Jordan in career points. I cannot argue that, “Yeah, Mike gained third place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain despite playing fewer seasons and games due to injury and retirement.” After all, injuries and retirement are part of the game.
Besides, I like Kobe and LeBron too. Just to a lesser degree than Mike.
Now this past Saturday, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton took his 100th pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. He achieved it in style as well as he held off competitor Max Verstappen .036 of a second.
It is a most satisfying victory for the number of wins he has and to have held off the Belgian-Dutch driver who has been a pest in his side.
And Hamilton has left my favorite F1 driver Michael Schumacher’s 68 pole wins in the dust.
When Schumi broke Ayrton Senna’s 65 pole finishes, I thought, now that feat is going to be unbreakable.
Oops. I shouldn’t have said that. And that has my mind racing back.
It has been a while since I thought of the Brazilian Senna who was one of two drivers killed during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. That was May 1, 1994—nearly 30 years ago.
That was heartbreaking for many reasons because aside from Senna, Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed as well right before the latter.
Senna was killed instantly when he failed to negotiate a turn and slammed into an unprotected concrete barrier. When he was pulled out from his Williams-Rennault FW16, he was found to have a flag of Austria on his person. Senna had planned on paying tribute to Ratzenberger when he crossed the finish line.
Except, he never got to do it.
Nevertheless…. I remember at the height of MJ’s career as he was breaking one record after another, it was asked, “What ghosts is Jordan chasing on his way to the Hall of Fame?”
I guess, the same can be asked of Hamilton…what ghosts is he in pursuit of?
In all likelihood, he will end up as the GOAT of F1 racing. His 100 wins are 32 ahead of Schumacher. The only other active driver with more than 50 wins is German driver Sebastian Vettel and I too wonder if his best days as a F1 driver are behind him.
Vettel finished 13th in the Spanish Grand Prix (for Aston Martin).
I won’t say that it would be hard for other drivers to reach the century mark in terms of wins because we all know that just when you think it won’t happen…it will happen.
Having watched Hamilton these past seven years for Mercedes has been incredible.
I should count myself lucky to have lived to see Muhammad Ali, Pele, Floyd Mayweather, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tom Brady, Roger Federer, and others perform amazing feats in fields of athletic battle.
And Lewis Hamilton is in the same sentence as those other GOATs.