What makes a world-class racer? It’s hard to pin down, but it’s undoubtedly shared by two of the greatest drivers in history: Lewis Hamilton and Ayrton Senna.
In such a hyper-competitive sport such as Formula One, it’s a battle of the best. While drivers have gotten in due to luck or connections in the past, at the end of the day there is only the prowess that one displays out on the track which will make or break their career. Among the stars, there are those that shine even brighter than their peers. One such case is Lewis Hamilton – who, at the age of 32 – matched his childhood hero Ayrton Senna’s record for 65 career pole positions.
Recently, Hamilton was gifted one of Senna’s helmets by the Senna family in commemoration of his achievement – but there is one man in Motorsports who holds that the two drivers’ achievement is due to their similarities. And he should know, he’s worked with both of them. Paddy Lowe, who is currently the Chief Technical officer at Williams, has worked with both Hamilton and with Senna during his career, and he maintains that the drivers who end up breaking those sorts of records are the ones that dig deeper than the rest of the pack:
“They both stick within the handful of greats that there are within the history of the sport.
Those great drivers are able to pull out an extraordinary lap and I think you kind of saw that with Lewis [with pole on Saturday], that probably on Mercedes estimations and simulations, that time wasn’t in the car.
They didn’t have it on the charts. They probably thought Ferrari had them after P3, and then you see Lewis will go out there and really dig deep.
These drivers cannot do it every Saturday but, every now and again, they go out there when something really extraordinary is required and produce a lap where you go, ‘where on earth did that come from?’ Lewis is certainly one to do that and Ayrton was certainly one to do that.”
– Paddy Lowe
While Lowe has worked more alongside Hamilton that he has with Senna, the grizzled F1 veteran’s views on the matter of the two exceptional drivers is hard to refute. Despite his reputation for being a dangerously aggressive driver back in the day, Senna’s aptitude out on the track is doubted by no one. Hell, no one gets the moniker of being a “F1 Legend” by being mediocre. While Hamilton has that honor now, he does have the advantage of time that Senna had ripped away from him. Lewis is just three poles shy from matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time highest count of 68 career pole positions – and something tells us he’ll have no issue achieving the higher tier.