Germany’s Michael Schumacher is widely considered to be one of the greatest Formula One drivers in the history of the sport, as his many records prove.
One of those records could be equalled today in the German Grand Prix on the Nürburgring, a track on which Schumacher achieved five of his 91 victories.
British wunderkind Lewis Hamilton, who has won six of the 10 races so far this season, stands at 90 victories.
He missed an opportunity to equal Schumacher’s record at the Russian Grand Prix on September 27, where his race was derailed by two five-second penalties, and he finished third behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing frontman Max Verstappen.
Hamilton started his racing career with McLaren in 2007 at the Australian Grand Prix and secured a sensational third-place finish, which, at the time, was bettered only by Jacques Villeneuve, who had finished second on his debut in Australia in 1996.
Since then, Kevin Magnussen secured a second-place finish in Melbourne in 2014, benefiting from a Daniel Ricciardo disqualification.
For Hamilton, third place was just the beginning of great things to come. And he did not have to wait for long – he followed up his debut with four successive second-place finishes.
In his sixth race, in Canada, the then 22-year-old secured his first win, beating German Nick Heidfeld.
He went on to win the next race as well, affording himself a 10-point lead in the drivers’ standings.
Although the Stevenage-born driver was overtaken in the championship’s standing by Kimi Räikkönen after finishing seventh in the last race in Brazil, he had – in his first season – firmly established himself as a driver for the future.
And the future came much sooner than presumably even Hamilton would have imagined, as his second season began with a victory in Melbourne to give him an early lead in the world championship.
At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton had won his first drivers’ championship.
At 23 years and 300 days old, he was – at the time – the youngest person to be crowned world champion.
The record was broken two years later by Sebastian Vettel, who was 166 days younger than Hamilton when he won the first of his four consecutive world championships.
After having played catch-up with Vettel for four years, Hamilton took control of the sport once more.
He won his second world title in 2014 as he raced to six victories in the last seven races to win ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Since then, it was only Rosberg who managed to edge out Hamilton for the drivers’ championship, as the German won the 2016 title and then sensationally announced his retirement from the sport.
As motor sport fans look towards Germany for today’s grand prix, Hamilton stands on six world championships, one behind Schumacher, who has been out of the public eye since suffering a debilitating brain injury during a skiing accident.
But with a 44-point lead in the standings, it is likely that the Mercedes driver will equal Schumacher’s record of seven championships this season.
He already holds a number of records, including the longest run of successive points finishes (43), podium finishes (159) and pole positions (96), and it seems likely that some of them could be extended today.
Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who oversaw the Schumacher era, believes that the German, who was replaced by Hamilton at Mercedes in 2013, raced in a tougher time.
“Schuey was driving on his own, more or less, when he was racing in his car,” Ecclestone said.
“Hamilton has got God knows who helping him, telling him what his tyre pressure is, [what his] speed is through corners.
“You cannot say anything bad about Lewis. You cannot say he is not good; that is not the point. How good he is compared with somebody else? Well, he is supertalented and would be among the top five drivers for the past 30 years.
“Is he better than Michael? Would Michael have been better in that car? You can’t say.”
While it remains to be seen whether Hamilton will equal Schumacher’s record of race victories this afternoon, one record will definitely be broken as Räikkönen takes over from Rubens Barrichello as the driver with the most starts in Formula One.
Today’s race is the 323rd start for the 2007 world champion from Finland.