Lewis Hamilton is already the best driver of his generation and greatest British driver of all time but, far from being satisfied with that, there’s a sense of more to come from the Mercedes ace.
In Formula 1 history, no-one has ever won as many races (103), collected as many points (4193.5) or secured as many pole positions (103) as Hamilton, who is only matched by Michael Schumacher when it comes to world titles.
Although the seven-time drivers champion might be approaching the tail end of his career, the 38-year-old still demonstrates the same passion and desire that got him into F1 in the first place.
Unlike some of his better-connected and financed rivals, Hamilton had to prove himself at every point of his journey into Formula 1.
The Stevenage-born racer caught McLaren’s eye with his performances in karting and, in 1998, he became the youngest driver to receive a contract on an F1 team when being enrolled in the McLaren Driver Development Support Programme.
Success at every level of the progression path to Formula 1, including titles in Formula Renault, Formula 3 and GP2, persuaded McLaren to hand him a drive for the 2007 season at the age of 22.
Hamilton became the first, and to this date only, black driver to compete in Formula 1 when handed the opportunity by McLaren and immediately repaid their faith.
Hamilton was a naturally aggressive racer with an amazing ability to push and hold the car right on its limit, and wasn’t shy about showing off his talent from day one in Formula 1.
The Brit finished third on debut, the first of nine straight podium finishes, including two victories, as he put the rest of the grid on notice. He would go on to finish second in the drivers’ championship in his first season, one point behind eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen, and level on points with team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton and Alonso would fall out during their season together, partly due to Hamilton’s frustration at being cast in a supporting role to the Spaniard, despite his performances suggesting otherwise. Alonso would leave McLaren at the end of the season as a result of the dispute.
Keeping Hamilton, rather than fighting to retain Alonso, turned out to be the right move by McLaren as, the following year, Hamilton would become the youngest world champion in F1 history.
Hamilton’s pass of Timo Glock on the final lap of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in 2008 to clinch the world title would prove his defining moment at McLaren.
Having idolised Aryton Senna growing up and taken inspiration from the Brazilian great, winning a world title in a McLaren in Brazil was a remarkable moment in Hamilton’s young career and was tipped to be the first of many championships with the team.
However, he would only seriously challenge for a title once more as a McLaren driver, falling short in 2010, with off-track issues and mistakes proving costly.
At the end of the 2012 season, Hamilton announced he would be jumping ship to Mercedes to replace Michael Schumacher in a shock move.
The Silver Arrows had failed to seriously challenge for honours since returning to the sport in 2010 and Hamilton’s first season with his new team saw him finish fourth, way behind champion Sebastian Vettel.
But F1’s switch to turbo-charged V6 hybrid engines brought about a huge sea change with Mercedes becoming top dogs overnight.
The switch was followed by a run of six titles over the next seven years for Hamilton with only his team-mate Nico Rosberg able to deny him a clean sweep in that time when winning the title in 2016.
When Rosberg retired after his title win, F1 turned into a one-horse race with Hamilton streaks ahead of his rivals. Even when Ferrari got close to Mercedes on occasions, Hamilton was able to hold them at arm's length as he chalked up win after win and title after title.
Having been an ultra-aggressive, hot-headed driver in his early days, Hamilton appeared to mature with each title success, albeit without losing his edge.
His consistency and ability to thrive on all manner of tracks and in every type of situation made him nearly impossible to beat in this time, and it would take a superhuman effort from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to eventually end his run of titles in 2021.
His rivalry with Verstappen appeared to bring out the best in Hamilton, who produced some career-best performances during the second half of that season, only to be denied a record-breaking eighth world title on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 2022 season was the first of Hamilton’s career without a win as Mercedes failed to seriously challenge Red Bull and, although the seven-time champion admits his standards did slip at times last term, a response is expected in 2023.
With Hamilton needing one more win to break his tie with Schumacher for most world titles in F1 history, a big push is expected by Mercedes in 2023.