Motor racing legend Michael Schumacher could only watch from the stands as his fellow German Lewis Hamilton equaled his long-standing record of seven world titles.
Hamilton increased his lead at the top of the Formula One standings with Sunday’s win in the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
After going over the distance with Schumacher on seven occasions in the team’s cars, Hamilton captured his eighth win of the season, leaving him one shy of Schumacher’s all-time record set in 2000.
With his unprecedented eighth title, Hamilton officially tied Schumacher and the great Juan Manuel Fangio for the most in the history of the sport. Schumacher claimed his eighth and ninth titles before retiring in 2012. Fangio passed Schumacher with two titles in 1960 and 1965.
In 1997, Schumacher scored his first and only win at the Circuit of the Americas, the second U.S. Grand Prix win of his career.
Hamilton opened up a hefty lead going into the middle of the 10-lap final stint, where overtaking was very difficult for his rivals.
Second-place Sebastian Vettel scored a great comeback after being pole-sitter, and third-place Max Verstappen and fifth-place Kimi Raikkonen were unable to close the gap as Hamilton passed to extend his lead to 32 points.
To secure his title, Hamilton needed to finish second to Vettel while his German rival needed to finish fourth to prevent Hamilton receiving the titles via a points deduction.
“I haven’t been able to call this season away,” Hamilton said in his on-track interview. “I’m really thankful for all the support from all my fans, I love you guys.”
Hamilton’s win was also the first for Mercedes at Circuit of the Americas, which is a new track for the current series. Vettel retired on the second lap of the Australian Grand Prix when his car sustained a front left rear gearbox failure.
After being swept up in a celebratory scrum in the center of the grass, the British driver shared his thoughts on his record-tying feat with his 10-year-old son.
“You have to have big heart and to really understand how hard it is to win these things,” Hamilton said. “There are lots of great legends that won seven times, [Steve] McQueen, everything you could ever want in your life [but] there are a lot of greats at other sports and in other disciplines that never got a chance to do what I have done and I’ve had one day to live with it so I’m really grateful.”
The Formula One season concludes in Brazil on Nov. 25.