Alain Prost believes an unbeatable Lewis Hamilton will be crowned world champion this year and next to become the most decorated Formula One driver that has ever lived.
Hamilton is continuing to re-write the sport’s history books, eclipsing Michael Schumacher’s all-time podium tally with his 156th visit to a grand prix rostrum in Spain on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Briton is now just three victories shy of Schumacher’s win record of 91 and remains firmly on course to match the German’s leading tally of seven world titles this year.
The most podium’s in @f1 🤯 I can’t even begin to describe how this feels. Thank you all for your love and positivity. I want to thank everyone back at the factory, I’m so proud to be a part of this team and I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. #StillWeRise pic.twitter.com/iY7Wc2RP21
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) August 16, 2020
Hamilton also secured the 92nd pole of his career at the Circuit de Catalunya, 24 more than Schumacher managed.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Prost, who won the F1 title on four occasions, said: “The way Lewis is driving, the confidence he has in his Mercedes team, and the fact that the regulations are going to change very little in 2021, gives him a very good chance to be world champion this year and next. I cannot see anybody beating him.”
Schumacher dominated the sport at the turn of the century by winning five consecutive championships with Ferrari. Hamilton, who is 37 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, is poised to claim his sixth title in seven years.
The only driver to beat him during that period is Nico Rosberg, but Hamilton has the measure of Valtteri Bottas, who replaced his great rival at Mercedes in 2017.
“It is unbelievable what Lewis has done,” continued Prost, 65. “But you can only do that if you have a long domination and a long-term commitment with a team.
“When Michael did it we all thought it would not be possible to beat his records because of how modern Formula One is. But we now have a period of domination with Lewis and Mercedes.
“You can compare the dominance of Ferrari and Michael and Mercedes and Lewis because it is basically the same story.
“You have a perfect organisation with key people in the team and a number one and a number two driver. Psychologically you have a very stable situation which puts you in a very strong position.
“Sometimes people don’t realise what Lewis is doing because he has produced some exceptional laps, but he can only do that because he is comfortable in the team, confident with the team, and that can help you find the last tenths of a second.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 17, 2020
Not for the first time in his career, Hamilton drew comparisons with Ayrton Senna after he said he completed his 88th career win in an almost unconscious state.
Senna famously said he was “no longer driving consciously” when he put his McLaren on pole at the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, 1.4 seconds faster than team-mate Prost.
Senna’s rivalry with Prost is probably the greatest the sport has known, so how would Hamilton have stacked up against his childhood hero?
“There are a few questions which you cannot answer,” replied Prost.
“Do I know Lewis? I have known Lewis since he was 13 and he signed with Ron Dennis at McLaren, but I don’t know him. I don’t know if anyone knows him very well.
“He is one of the best and that is obvious, but how can you judge this generation of cars and drivers? It was more than 30 years ago.
“I would ask myself if I was in Juan Manuel Fangio’s time would I have been able to be a world champion? Was I as good as him? But Fangio is a good example. He first raced in F1 when he was 38.
“You can have a realistic judgement about Fangio, Ayrton and Lewis, but would we want Lewis to start at 38? No way, so sometimes you have to accept you cannot always compare.”