Putting Lewis Hamilton's unprecedented 100 F1 wins in perspective

It's hard to put Lewis Hamilton's 100 Formula One victories into context as no-one in the 71-year history of the sport has ever reached three figures of race wins.

Between 2006 and 2020, Michael Schumacher held the record for the most career wins at 91 -- a number that was 40 clear of the previous record and seemed unbeatable when Hamilton started out in F1 back in 2007. But as it has become clear that Hamilton would surpass that number over the past 12 months, the perceived limit of what is possible in a single F1 career has been redefined.

Ignoring the statistical significance of the roundest of round numbers, Hamilton's 100th win does not change the fact he is in one of the tightest title battles of his career. It moved the 36-year-old two points clear of title rival Max Verstappen in the championship standings, but offers no guarantee that he will ultimately come out on top as he chases another previously unthinkable record: an eighth world title.

Yet being the first F1 driver to reach triple figures still carries a significance that even Hamilton, who often claims not to be interested in numbers, could not ignore.

"It's a magical moment," he said after the race. "I could only have dreamed of still being here and having the opportunity to be able to win these races and drive against such phenomenal talent this late in my career.

"We continue to keep building with Mercedes with both everything we have done on track but also off."

Most F1 wins

  • Lewis Hamilton - 100

  • Michael Schumacher - 91

  • Sebastian Vettel - 53

  • Alain Prost - 51

  • Ayrton Senna - 41

  • Fernando Alonso - 32

  • Nigel Mansell - 31

  • Jackie Stewart - 27

  • Jim Clark - 25

  • Niki Lauda - 25

Yet some of Hamilton's critics still dismiss his achievements. The argument goes that he has had the most dominant car in F1 during a time when more races have been on the calendar than ever before, creating more opportunities to win than any other driver has previously had.

Rather than judge based on the outright number of victories, F1 aficionados often point to win percentages as a purer form of ranking the success of the very best. Yet the more races you compete in, the more chance you have of reliability issues, accidents or just a lack of car performance damaging your percentage, which is part of the reason why two drivers from the 1950s -- when cars were often more dominant than they are in modern F1, with winning margins sometimes counted in minutes rather than seconds -- lead the rankings.

Nevertheless, Hamilton remains in the top three with a 35.59 percent win ratio.

Percentage wins

  • Juan Manuel Fangio - 46.15% from 52 entries

  • Alberto Ascari - 39.39% from 33 entries

  • Lewis Hamilton - 35.59% from 281 entries

  • Jim Clark - 34.25% from 73 entries

  • Michael Schumacher - 29.55% from 308 entries

  • Jackie Stewart - 27% from 100 entries

  • Ayrton Senna - 25.31% from 162 entries

  • Alain Prost - 25.25% from 202 entries

Of course, there's no doubt that Mercedes' relatively unchallenged run of success over recent years has contributed to Hamilton's statistics. His time at Mercedes has yielded 79 of his 100 wins and six of his seven titles.

But it should not be forgotten that in his first year with the team, 2013, he took just one victory from a 19-race season. Hamilton's win ratio with Mercedes is much about the team he has helped build and how it came from the upper midfield of the grid in 2013 to dominate the sport -- a similar story exists behind the majority of Schumacher's 91 wins.

But as impressive as Hamilton's 100 wins are, right now they do not appear to be as unbeatable as Schumacher's 91 in 2006. Verstappen's emergence on the scene as a title rival at the age of just 23 means Hamilton's records, wherever they end up when he retires, will likely come under threat in the next decade.

Verstappen has 17 wins from 134 races so far in his career but is still building momentum and taking victories away from Hamilton. To put the Red Bull driver's career progression in context, Hamilton had won only nine races at the same age.

Perhaps the most thrilling thing is that these two talents are currently racing against each other for the title and we can compare their talents not by statistics alone but also with wheel-to-wheel battles on the race track. And in a tight championship battle such as this, you can guarantee that none of Hamilton's 100 wins will be as important to him right now as his 101st.