Lewis Hamilton has said he never believed he would be in a position to match Michael Schumacher’s record of Formula One victories. The Mercedes driver won the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello on Sunday and now stands one short of Schumacher’s tally of 91.
His team principal, Toto Wolff, has also flatly denied Mercedes have any intent to sell their multiple championship-winning team after the former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan claimed they were going to do so.
Hamilton won a hectic race, which was stopped twice due to accidents, and
said it had been physically and mentally challenging to stay focused
and secure the win. He could match Schumacher at
the next round in Russia on 27 September.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” he said on equalling the record. “It’s ultimately a privilege to be in a position and have such a great team and a car to be able to deliver weekend in, weekend out but I just feel forever grateful to the people that continue to work hard, I’m just a link in the chain. But I never thought that I would be here, that’s for sure.”
With Mercedes so dominant this season, Hamilton is almost certain to surpass Schumacher with up to eight races still remaining. He is also on course to match Schumacher’s other greatest record, that of seven drivers’ titles. Hamilton has six, including the past three and now enjoys a commanding lead in the championship. He is 55 points in front of Bottas and 80 clear of Max Verstappen in third.
At the weekend, Jordan had claimed Ineos, who are a sponsor and technical partner of Mercedes, were going to launch a £700m buyout of the team. In an interview he stated the team’s name would be changed and that Wolff would no longer be principal.
Mercedes have recently signed the new commercial deal to remain in the sport and their parent company, Daimler, stated they had no intention of leaving F1 having won the past six consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles.
At Mugello, Wolff repudiated all of Jordan’s claims. “People pick up bits and pieces and construct a story around it,” he said. “We have a magnificent relationship with Ineos. Beyond that everything is speculation. Daimler has no intent on giving up the team and Ineos has no interest in buying a majority of the team. So, plenty of things that are made up.”
Ineos may yet invest in Mercedes by buying a stakehold in the team who have yet to decide what to do will happen to the 10% of shares that were owned by Niki Lauda. Wolff insisted, however, that any delay in renewing Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes had nothing to do with any potential change of ownership but rather because of the busy F1 schedule.
“The future of the team is absolutely clear, it is the Mercedes Petronas AMG team and nothing is going to change that,” he said. “We haven’t had time for the discussion between Lewis and myself simply because we have had three triple-headers one after the other and now it’s just about sitting down and carving it out.”