Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver brings up his half-century of wins

Lewis Hamilton mosaic of race victories

Lewis Hamilton has made more Formula 1 history as his victory in the United States gives him his 50th race win - a figure reached by only two other drivers.

Michael Schumacher (91) and Alain Prost (51) are the two other men to rack up a half-century of victories.

Things to have happened in the tme taken to win 50 races

Germany's Schumacher and Frenchman Prost won 11 world titles between them, putting three-time champion Hamilton in rarefied company.

BBC Sport takes a look at the key stats behind Hamilton's race wins, and picks out five of his best victories.

How long did it take them to get to 50?

Graphic of how long it took Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton to get to 50 wins

'Undoubtedly an all-time great driver'

Lewis Hamilton's Formula 1 career is one of many illustrations of the problems with using statistics alone to define a driver's "greatness".

In the first seven years of Hamilton's career, he amassed 22 wins; three years on and he has just taken his 50th. The exponential increase in ratio owing to nothing other than being comfortably the faster driver in the only car capable of winning.

Is Hamilton three times better as a driver now than he was in 2013? Of course not, any more than Michael Schumacher (91 wins) was more than twice as good as Ayrton Senna (41).

This, though, is not to say that Hamilton is not an all-time great driver - that, he undoubtedly is.

Hamilton win ratio

His biggest strength is his blistering speed, founded on an incredible feel for a car on the limits of adhesion during the braking phase for a corner. Jenson Button had it right when he said Hamilton is "one of the fastest drivers there has ever been".

His raw pace is right up there with the very best. Senna, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio - he's that good.

All drivers have their flaws and Hamilton is no exception - he has bizarrely off-form days; he is not as rounded a talent as some, or as complete.

But is there a faster driver with more natural talent in F1 today? Almost certainly not.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

Hamilton's favourite circuits

Hamilton's favourite circuits graphic

Five of the best wins...

2007 Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton battling with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix
Then 22 and in his debut F1 season, Hamilton drove a masterful race in treacherous, wet conditions in Fuji as McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, frustrated by Hamilton's brilliance, crashed out.

2008 Monaco Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix
Hamilton survived a collision with the barriers at Tabac in rainy conditions on lap six to win at Monaco for the first time. The error punctured a rear tyre but worked in his favour as his team refuelled his car at the tyre change, enabling him to delay his final pit stop and build a decisive lead.

2008 British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the 2008 British Grand Prix
In a race that featured many torrential downpours, Hamilton kept control of his cars while others - notably title rival Felipe Massa - spun off at regular intervals. He won by over a minute from second-placed Nick Heidfeld. That's one minute.

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix
Despite making an extra pit stop than Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton - who had earlier passed McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, Felipe Massa's Ferrari and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg - was able to close in on the German and overtake him with four laps to go for a superb victory.

2012 United States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2012 United States Grand Prix
Shortly after announcing he would leave McLaren to join Mercedes for the 2013 season, Hamilton tracked championship leader Sebastian Vettel for the entire race before passing the German with 14 laps to go.

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg battle at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix
Hamilton has had many straightforward victories in the past three seasons in an utterly dominant Mercedes car. This was not one of them. He beat team-mate Nico Rosberg in a thrillingly close battle, featuring a 10-lap sprint to the finish after a late safety car period. On the faster soft tyre, Rosberg had the advantage, but Hamilton held him off to the end with aggressive defence. Superb.

And one that got away...

Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix
Or, more accurately, was taken away. The 2008 Belgian Grand Prix was meandering towards its conclusion when a late rain shower set up a thrilling final two laps. As the drivers struggled to keep the cars pointed in the right direction, Hamilton closed on race leader Kimi Raikkonen, passed the Finn, lost the lead again with a spin, re-took it and then saw Raikkonen crash. However, the Briton was ultimately given a 25-second penalty for cutting the Spa circuit's Bus Stop chicane immediately before passing Raikkonen.

'Awe-inspiring performances'

Good though win number 50 was, numbers alone don't accurately reflect the career of Lewis Hamilton. When the Englishman is on form, as he was in Austin on Sunday, he's sublime and his wins take on greater significance than a mere pot in his trophy cabinet.

He told us on Radio 5 live that F1 is a perennial search for perfection, and just occasionally he achieves it. Think Silverstone 2008, Monaco '08, Turkey '10; all of them awe-inspiring performances. Peaks such as these are so high that he's unable to repeat them at every race, but he should remembered as much for them as for mere statistics.

Tom Clarkson - 5 live F1

Only one win in Spain, but not bad elsewhere

Where Hamilton has won his 50 races
Canada 5Hungary 5
Britain 4China 4
USA 5Japan 3
Italy 3 Germany 3
Singapore 2Abu Dhabi 2
Australia 2Bahrain 2
Belgium 2Monaco 2
Russia 2Austria 1
Malaysia 1Spain 1
Turkey 1

He's won every year...

Wins per season
2007: 42008: 5
2009: 22010: 3
2011: 32012: 4
2013: 12014: 11
2015: 102016: 7 (to date)

Only Button got the better of him (so far)...

Points differential to team-mate
2007: Fernando Alonso: 0 (finished ahead of Alonso as he had five second-place finishes to Alonso's four)
2008: Heikki Kovalainen: +45
2009: Heikki Kovalainen: +27
2010: Jenson Button: +26
2011: Jenson Button: -43
2012: Jenson Button: +2
2013: Nico Rosberg: +18
2014: Nico Rosberg: +67
2015: Nico Rosberg: +59

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