“The Professor” has given his verdict on Lewis Hamilton’s tying his mark of 51 Grand Prix victories, now second on the all-time list.
Four-time World Champion Alain Prost was long F1’s leading race winner before Michael Schumacher surpassed him and surged to an incredible 91 career wins, but has since been entrenched in second place on the all-time list thereafter.
However, with Hamilton’s eighth win of 2016, the Englishman and three-time World Champion has now equaled him for second all-time.
Prost sent a tweet in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix to congratulate Hamilton on the achievement.
Hamilton responded on Monday with a kind word of thanks of his own.
Comparing eras is always going to be a difficult art. Prost had to beat a wealth of competitors in a wealth of different formulas.
His 51 wins came from 1981 through 1993. The only year in that stint when Prost raced but did not win was in 1991, driving a difficult Ferrari chassis and missing the final race in Adelaide.
Otherwise, Prost never built up the percentage of wins in the same way Hamilton did. Instead, he spread them out pretty evenly.
His first three wins came in 1981 with Renault and subsequent win totals were 2 (1982), 3 (1983), 7 (1984), 5 (first World Championship in 1985), 4 (second title in 1986), 3 (1987), 7 (1988, losing out to Ayrton Senna), 4 (third title in 1989), 5 (1990) and 7 (fourth and final title in 1993).
By contrast, Hamilton has won 11, 10 and 8 races in the last three seasons with Mercedes AMG Petronas – so more than half of his 51 Grand Prix wins – 29 of them – have come in his last 57 races. That’s a staggering strike rate of over 50 percent. And it also means his first 22 wins came in his first 129 starts, or a hit rate of 17 percent.
Their styles are different but for two more weeks, their career win totals are the same. Hamilton has 51 wins from 186 starts, Prost 51 from 199 starts (202 GP entries), so Hamilton has a slightly better overall win percentage (27.4 to 25.6 percent).
A Hamilton win in Brazil, if he could achieve it, would be his first – and would move him into sole second place all-time.