David Coulthard believes Michael Schumacher would be "staring in the eyes of his equal" in the form of Lewis Hamilton if they had driven in the same Formula One era.

Hamilton matched Schumacher's record of winning seven F1 world titles in style with a victory at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend.

The Brit had already made history when he surpassed Schumacher's tally of 91 F1 victories in Portugal last month and has gone on to take his haul to 94 in another dominant season.

Mercedes driver Hamilton is also all-time leader for poles (97), podiums (163) and points (3,738).

Coulthard thinks the 35-year-old deserves to be talked of in the same breath as legendary German Schumacher.

He told Stats Perform News: "There is no question that if Michael was still racing today, at his prime, he would be staring in the eyes of his equal [Hamilton].

"Because I think Michael is exceptional and I think Lewis is exceptional. And I think the way that he won his championship in Istanbul was the perfect way to show how good he is.

"Coming from sixth on the grid, in very difficult conditions and to win by what was quite a big margin in the end.

"So there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that he is the real deal and not only is he one of the best drivers of his generation, arguably he is one of the best drivers in the history of the sport."

While Mercedes have been in a league of their own yet again in 2020, Ferrari have endured a miserable season, languishing sixth in the constructor standings, but Coulthard believes they will come good.

He added: "It is obviously very disappointing this year for Ferrari fans around the world, and of course very disappointing for Ferrari themselves.

"But they recognise that they have obviously had some issues, and the feedback they were getting from their development, the CFD [computational fluid dynamics], the wind tunnel, and what has actually happened out on the racetrack.

"There has also been a clarification on the engine which means that they haven't been able to extract the same performance. But in Charles Leclerc they have an exceptional young driver, they have got Carlos [Sainz] coming there. What I think is actually a bit confusing is the drop-off in performance of Sebastian Vettel, which you just wouldn't expect from a driver of that quality.

"But it is what it is, Ferrari will be back in the future, next year's regulations are small changes, but they could be significant in terms of what happens around the rear of the car, aerodynamically.

"I believe Ferrari have a new engine in development which should hopefully bring them forward. So in the same way that they were dominant for a period with Michael [Schumacher], and then Red Bull were dominant, now Mercedes are dominant - every cycle comes to an end, and Ferrari will be back."

Lewis Hamilton made Formula One history last weekend with a 92nd race win and the Mercedes driver can match another record at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher won 72 Grands Prix during his time with Ferrari, and six-time world champion Hamilton can reach the tally for the Silver Arrows if he wins at Imola.

The track is back on the calendar for the first time since 2006, though no fans will be able to attend due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Italy.

After his dominant victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton has won nine times this season as he closes in matching Schumacher's haul of seven F1 world titles.

We preview a race which starts at 13:10 local time (12:10 GMT).

 

LAST TIME OUT

It was a landmark win for Hamilton in Portugal, as the Briton surpassed Schumacher's record of 91 F1 victories.

Hamilton started on pole, but slipped to third place on the second lap before coasting to yet another victory ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

The 35-year-old leads the championship by 77 points and it is surely only a matter of time before he wraps up a fourth straight world title.

Alex Albon had been challenged by Christian Horner to make an impact in the Algarve, but the Red Bull driver got off to a slow start and never looked likely to challenge for points, ultimately finishing in 12th.

Carlos Sainz faded after a strong start, while Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and 10th respectively. 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AT IMOLA

All eyes will of course be on Hamilton, but Bottas will be looking to gain some of the limelight.

Bottas is 17 points ahead of Verstappen, and the pair might have to battle it out for second place with Hamilton riding on the crest of a wave.

If Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen finish on the podium at Imola, it will be the second-most repeated top-three in F1 history, behind a top three of Hamilton, Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

Albon will need to start mounting a response to his poor form if he is to cling onto his Red Bull seat next season, while Ferrari's Leclerc has not finished on the podium since the British Grand Prix at the start of August.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Senna's legacy lives on – Ayrton Senna died in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The legendary Brazilian took eight pole positions at Imola, more than any other driver at the Italian circuit.

Seven up for Mercedes – Mercedes are 12 points away from claiming the world F1 team championship for a seventh consecutive year, the best run for a team in F1.

History maker – This will be the 32nd different grand prix for Hamilton, who has won more races (27) and taken more pole positions (27) at different Grands Prix than any other driver.

Bottas' conversion issues continue – Bottas has claimed 14 poles in total, yet he has won just won five races after starting at the top of the grid.

Vettel's qualification woe – Vettel has failed to reach Q3 in the last eight qualifying sessions – the worst run in his F1 career. The four-time world champion has gone 15 consecutive races without reaching the podium.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers 
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 256 
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 179 
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 162 
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) – 80 
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 75 

Constructors 
1. Mercedes – 435 
2. Red Bull – 226 
3. Racing Point – 126 
4. McLaren – 124 
5. Renault – 120 

Lewis Hamilton's 92nd race win at Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix saw him surpass Michael Schumacher for the most in Formula One history. 

The Mercedes man, who equalled Schumacher's haul of 91 a fortnight earlier in Germany, started from pole but had to recover from a tough start to beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas. 

Hamilton is now top of the pile, yet both he and Schumacher stand well clear of the rest in F1. 

Sebastian Vettel is third in the standings with 53 wins, just ahead of Alain Prost's 51. Ayrton Senna had 41. 

With the help of Opta, we take a look at more numbers behind Hamilton's success and his pursuit of Schumacher...


HOW HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENTS BREAK DOWN

The 35-year-old's record haul of victories have come from 262 grands prix at a win rate of 35.1 per cent. 

Of his 92 successes, 80 have come from the front row of the grid (87 per cent) and 57 from pole (62 per cent). 

With seven wins after qualifying in third, two from fourth and one each from fifth and sixth, only one Hamilton victory has come with the Briton starting from outside the top six – the 2018 German Grand Prix, he claimed a remarkable triumph after beginning the race way down in 14th. 

Meanwhile, this latest win marked a 28th different circuit at which he has come out on top - another record - and arrives amid a dominant hybrid era. 

Hamilton had at least nine wins in every season between 2014 and 2019 and, with eight so far, is on course to reach that mark again this year. No other driver has achieved this feat in six different seasons. 


WHAT IS LEFT FOR LEWIS TO LOOK FOR?

The most notable Schumacher record still on the table is his tally of seven drivers' championships, an achievement Hamilton will surely match this year. 

But the German great also still leads the way in terms of various other statistics. 

Hamilton spoke this week of a desire to remain at Mercedes next year and that should allow him to bring other benchmarks into view. 

A victory in a 15th consecutive season in 2021 would tie Schumacher's historic run from 1992 to 2006. Hamilton's first (at Canada in 2007) came 255 races ago, with a longer stretch between successes enjoyed only by Kimi Raikkonen (294 between his first win in Malaysia in 2003 and his most recent in the United States in 2018). 

Regardless of any extension to his stay with the Silver Arrows, Hamilton will likely add to his tally of 71 triumphs for the German outfit – only Schumacher has more successes with any one team (72 with Ferrari). 

Another trip to Hungary could bring Hamilton's ninth victory there. No driver has ever reached nine wins at a single grand prix, with Schumacher having also registered eight in France.  

In-form Lewis Hamilton can take the Formula One record for most race wins outright as the series returns to Portugal this weekend.

Defending champion Hamilton again tops the drivers' championship this year after winning seven of the 11 grands prix so far in 2020.

Those successes have seen the Briton seize a slice of history, tying Michael Schumacher's mark of 91 F1 victories last time out.

The Portuguese Grand Prix, which begins at 13:10 local time (GMT) on Sunday, can now provide the setting for Hamilton's big moment as he seeks to surpass the former Ferrari great.

LAST TIME OUT

Hamilton certainly enjoyed himself at the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany 10 days ago.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas had started on pole, but an early error allowed Hamilton to take advantage and he held off Max Verstappen to take the win and further increase his season lead. Bottas retired on lap 19.

Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, had been due to get his F1 bow in practice before adverse weather conditions intervened.

But Hamilton's feat - a record-equalling 91st success - meant Mick still had a part to play, handing over one of his father's helmets to the victor.

"This is such an honour," Hamilton told the 21-year-old. "I really appreciate it."
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN PORTUGAL

Hamilton is determined to ensure his looming achievement does not provide a distraction, insisting he is wary of the threat of Red Bull and Renault, whose Daniel Ricciardo finished third in Germany.

"I think Red Bull as well as Renault have really picked up their game and closed the gap, so we've got to continue to keep our heads down," he said.

But while all eyes will of course be on Hamilton, there are others who need a performance just as badly.

Ferrari have now gone seven races without a podium since Charles Leclerc finished third at the British GP. Only once since the turn of the century - in the final eight grands prix of the 2014 campaign - have the Scuderia endured a longer such run.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

More Hamilton history? - The season leader can become just the second driver - after Schumacher (5111) - to lead for 5000 laps if he runs in first place from start to finish on Sunday.

Ending the wait - The Portuguese GP is back 24 years after its previous race, when Jacques Villeneuve (Williams) won in 1996. Portimao is the fourth track to be used for this event, following Estoril, Porto and Monsant.

Another ticked off - This will be the 32nd different circuit Hamilton has raced at. He has tasted victory at 27 of the other 31 and achieved pole at 28 - both records.

Winning Williams? - Williams have won five of the past six races in Portugal, also taking pole position at five of these grands prix. No team can top their overall tallies of six wins and five poles in Portugal.

Or maybe not... - Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi are the only drivers on the grid without a single point in 2020.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 230
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 161
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 147
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - 78
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) - 68

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 391
2. Red Bull – 211
3. Racing Point - 120
4. McLaren – 116
5. Renault – 114

Lewis Hamilton's father expressed his sadness that Michael Schumacher could not be at the Eifel Grand Prix to see his son equal his record tally of Formula One victories.

Mercedes driver Hamilton took the chequered flag for the 91st time at the Nurburgring on Sunday to draw level with the legendary Schumacher.

There was a touching moment when the German great's son, Mick, presented the six-time F1 world champion with one of his father's helmets after his record-equalling win.

Hamilton's father, Anthony, spoke of his pride over his son's achievements, but revealed his sadness that Michael Schumacher could not be present due to the serious injuries he suffered in a skiing accident in 2013.

He told Sky Sports News: "While it was an exciting day and certainly an honour to receive that from Mick Schumacher, it's also tinged with a bit of sadness because Michael's not here."

Championship leader Hamilton was taken aback by the gesture from Formula 2 driver Mick Schumacher, who was denied an F1 practice drive on Friday due to bad weather.

"Wow, I'm really, really honoured man. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that thank you," said the Briton.

"I don't even know what to say. I mean, when you grow up watching someone, you genuinely idolise them in terms of the quality of the driver they are and what they're able to continuously do, year on year and race on race, week on week with their team.

"I remember playing as Michael on the game, Grand Prix 2 I think it was.

"Seeing his dominance for so long, I don't think anyone – and especially me – could imagine that I'd be anywhere near Michael in terms of records. It's an incredible honour."

Hamilton needs one more world championship win to equal Schumacher's haul of seven.

Lewis Hamilton was "honoured" to receive one of Michael Schumacher's helmets after equalling his record for the most Formula One grand prix wins.

The Mercedes driver claimed the 91st victory of his career - a total that brought him level with seven-time world champion Schumacher - as he triumphed at the Eifel Grand Prix on Sunday.

It was the first F1 race since 2013 at Nurburgring in Schumacher's home country, and the Ferrari great's son was on hand to mark Hamilton's landmark victory.

Mick Schumacher - who was due to take part in his first F1 practice on Friday, only for the poor weather conditions to deny him the chance - handed Hamilton one of his father's iconic red helmets from the 2012 season as the Briton spoke on stage following his win.

"I'm honoured," Hamilton told the younger Schumacher. "This is such an honour; I really appreciate it."

Asked what it meant to him to receive the gift, Hamilton added: "I don't even know what to say.

"When you grow up, watching someone and you genuinely idolise them, just in terms of the quality of the driver they are, what they are able to continuously do year on year, race on race, week on week with their team...

"I remember playing as Michael on a game called Grand Prix 2. Seeing his dominance for so long, I didn't think anyone, especially me, would be anywhere near Michael in terms of records, so it's an incredible honour. It's going to take some time to get used to.

"As I came into the pitlane, that's only when I realised that I'd equalled that. I hadn't even computed it once [until] I crossed the line.

"I couldn't have done it without this incredible team, everyone continuing to push behind me and giving their everything."

It was the other Mercedes who started the race on pole and even after Hamilton claimed the lead from Valtteri Bottas on the first corner, the Finn fought back and nipped ahead again at the next turn.

However, relentless pressure from the championship leader forced Bottas into an error on lap 12 as he locked up.

Mechanical issues forced Bottas to retire not long after and Hamilton was able to emerge victorious ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo to extend his lead in the title race to 69 points.

"I had a good start, got up alongside Valtteri and we both understeered into this corner, so I tried to give as much room as possible," Hamilton added.

"He was in my blind spot so I didn't know where he was. I moved wide to the outside, he came back, he did an amazing job. I remember coming out of that corner thinking, 'Good on you, man, I'm impressed. That was good.'

"After that I just had to make sure that I tried to hang on to him for as long as possible and I managed to look after my tyres really well. I could see he was graining his front tyres, so I knew the next couple of laps were the time for me to push, then he had the lock up.

"It was not an easy race at all. The Red Bulls are so fast. Max drove extremely well. The one chance he had was at the restart, but I managed to pull away. You could see their pace at the end, we've got a serious fight on our hands."

Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record for the most Formula One race wins by triumphing at the Eifel Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion took advantage of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas' early error to seize the lead and then held off Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Nurburgring.

Bottas, who started on pole, had a rotten day in Germany, retiring on lap 19 because of a mechanical failure, with Renault's Daniel Ricciardo finishing third.

Hamilton was able to increase his lead in the standings due to Bottas' retirement, the Briton now 69 points clear with six races to go as he closes on equalling Schumacher's record drivers' championships tally of seven.

Bottas was bidding to win back-to-back races for the first time in his career but a sluggish start off the grid opened the door to Hamilton in Turn One.

However, the Finn, racing in his 150th grand prix, battled back at Turn Two to regain the lead and show the kind of fighting spirit some have accused him of lacking.

Hamilton was back ahead at the start of lap 12, though, Bottas locking up at Turn One with an error that required him to pit and drop further back.

The introduction of the virtual safety car - brought out after Kimi Raikkonen clipped George Williams on his record 324th start - resulted in both Hamilton and Verstappen pitting to further deject Bottas, whose race was run not long after.

Hamilton was cruising to victory but when McLaren's Lando Norris abandoned the race, having also battled issues with his car for much of the afternoon, another safety car was deployed to give some hope to the chasing pack.

Verstappen very nearly smashed into the back of the race leader on the restart with 10 laps to go, but Hamilton duly delivered a lap record of 1:28.487 on 52 of 60 en route to a slice of history.

Mick Schumacher was denied a chance to show that Formula One prowess may run in the family as thick fog and heavy rain caused Friday's morning practice for the Eifel Grand Prix to be called off.

The son of seven-time champion driver Michael Schumacher had been due for a run-out in the Alfa Romeo at the Nurburgring, his reward for an impressive season in Formula 2.

British driver Callum Ilott was also due to take part in the first free practice session, driving for Haas, but his hopes were similarly scuppered.

Both have come up through the Ferrari Driver Academy and may soon be pushing for drives in F1 – with Schumacher first and Ilott sitting second in the F2 standings.

Yet the chance to demonstrate their potential was hit by the weather in western Germany, with the medical helicopter unable to take off because of the conditions, ruling out the prospect of cars taking to the track.

Race director Michael Masi told the official F1 website: "It is a bit challenging, obviously, with the fog that's come in, the medical helicopter is not able to take off and fly to the hospital.

"The distance by road is far too far should something occur."

Race officials were hopeful that afternoon practice would go ahead, but Schumacher and Ilott were only inked in for the first session.

Masi said: "Obviously the region that we're in is probably not dissimilar to Austria, earlier in the year where we had a similar situation. It's just the nature of the area and the location, and the fog's come in, it's sort of been going up slightly then coming down more dramatically.

"We'll just judge at the time and from an FIA perspective the safety of all the participants, particularly of the drivers coming out, is paramount and that's not something we will compromise."

Mick Schumacher is one of three Ferrari prospects who will get the opportunity to drive in practice sessions during the rest of the 2020 season, the Formula One team have announced.

Schumacher - son of the legendary Michael, who won seven world titles in his career - sits on top of this season's Formula 2 standings with one round to go.

The 21-year-old is to take part in a Friday practice in F1 for the first time, as he will drive the Alfa Romeo on October 9 ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix, the next race on the calendar.

Callum Ilott gets the chance impress in the same session too, with the British driver - who is Schumacher's nearest rival in F2 this year - taking a seat in the Ferrari-powered Haas at the Nurburgring.

Both have driven Formula One cars before, however, having taken part in testing in 2019.

Robert Shwartzman, meanwhile, will be on duty on the Friday before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place on Sunday, December 13. 

"We wanted to organise this test session so that our three best youngsters would be as well prepared as possible to tackle an event that will always be a special moment for them," Laurent Mekies, Ferrari's sporting director, said.

"It will be a chance to get to grips with a Formula 1 car, which is much more complicated than the car they are currently used to driving.

"I would like to thank Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing for offering Callum, Mick and Robert this opportunity. We believe strongly in our academy, which has already proved its value, with Charles Leclerc, a driver on which the Scuderia can build its long-term future.

"Callum, Mick and Robert have already proved their worth in the current Formula 2 season and this test is a further step in their education."

Ferrari already have their line-up confirmed for the 2021 F1 season, when Carlos Sainz will arrive to team up with Leclerc.

However, both Alfa Romeo and Haas - who use Ferrari engines - could have openings for young drivers to get onto the grid.

Lewis Hamilton has received some good news after a deflating Russian Grand Prix, as the penalty points he received for an infringement have been rescinded by race stewards.

Championship leader Hamilton was punished after carrying out practice starts outside the designated area prior to Sunday's race in Sochi.

The Mercedes driver was handed two five-second time penalties, which he served in the pits after coming in when leading on lap 17, meaning he had to settle for a third-place finish.

The Briton was also hit with two penalty points on his Formula One super licence, taking his tally to 10 across the previous 12 months. If he received two more, Hamilton would have served a one-race ban.

However, after listening to audio, stewards accepted that it was the team at fault, as Hamilton was acting under instructions.

"The stewards received information from the team that the driver of car 44 had received a team instruction to perform the practice start in the incorrect place," a statement from the stewards read. 

"This was confirmed by the stewards having listened to the audio between the team and the driver.

"Based on this information, the stewards replace document 47 with this decision and therefore remove the penalty points imposed."

Hamilton had hit out at officials in a post-race interview with Sky Sports F1, the six-time world champion claiming: "They're trying to stop me".

"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," he said.

"I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is."

Asked if the punishment was excessive, Hamilton replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.

"They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas clinched victory, reducing the former's lead in the title race down to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.

Lewis Hamilton made clear his unhappiness with race officials after a pair of time penalties cost him dearly at the Russian Grand Prix, declaring: "They're trying to stop me".

Championship leader Hamilton was leading the way in Sochi when informed he was to be punished for carrying out a practice start outside the designated area before the race.

Formula One stewards ordered the Mercedes driver to serve two five-second penalties when he pitted on lap 17, leaving him with too much ground to make up when returning to the track.

The Briton ended up having to settle for third place as team-mate Valtteri Bottas claimed victory, cutting the gap between the pair in the driver standings to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.

Hamilton did not hold back with his assessment in an interview with Sky Sports, claiming there are some who are determined to stop him securing a seventh world title.

"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," Hamilton - who was also handed two more penalty points on his super licence - said.

"I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is. 

Asked if the punishment was excessive, he replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.

"They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."

Hamilton, who started from pole position, was aiming to move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher by claiming a 91st race win, as well as a third in a row in Russia.

Any hopes of a record-equalling triumph were dashed by the penalties, though. On a frustrating day, he also appeared to question the timing of his stop over the team radio.

"The plan was to stop on that lap, I was just trying to go as far as I could," Hamilton revealed. "It didn't really change a huge amount, I just knew I had such a long to go on that tyre.  

"I think I did pretty well on the softs, but we will discuss it and try to figure it out. I’ve just got to make sure I don't put myself in that situation again."

Hamilton will hope to draw level with Schumacher's tally next time out, with the season moving to Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton made clear his unhappiness with race officials after a pair of time penalties cost him dearly at the Russian Grand Prix, declaring: "They're trying to stop me".

Championship leader Hamilton was leading the way in Sochi when informed he was to be punished for carrying out a practice start outside the designated area before the race.

Formula One stewards ordered the Mercedes driver to serve two five-second penalties when he pitted on lap 17, leaving him with too much ground to make up when returning to the track.

The Briton ended up having to settle for third place as team-mate Valtteri Bottas claimed victory, cutting the gap between the pair in the driver standings to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.

Hamilton did not hold back with his assessment in an interview with Sky Sports, claiming there are some who are determined to stop him securing a seventh world title.

"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," Hamilton - who was also handed two more penalty points on his super licence - said.

"I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is. 

Asked if the punishment was excessive, he replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.

"They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."

Hamilton, who started from pole position, was aiming to move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher by claiming a 91st race win, as well as a third in a row in Russia.

Any hopes of a record-equalling triumph were dashed by the penalties, though. On a frustrating day, he also appeared to question the timing of his stop over the team radio.

"The plan was to stop on that lap, I was just trying to go as far as I could," Hamilton revealed. "It didn't really change a huge amount, I just knew I had such a long to go on that tyre.  

"I think I did pretty well on the softs, but we will discuss it and try to figure it out. I’ve just got to make sure I don't put myself in that situation again."

Hamilton will hope to draw level with Schumacher's tally next time out, with the season moving to Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton stands on the precipice of matching another of Michael Schumacher's great records in Formula One after snatching pole position for the Russian Grand Prix.

Should the British driver convert his performance in qualifying to another victory, it would mean Hamilton matching Schumacher's 91 race wins.

That is the narrative that could play out in Sochi after Hamilton dramatically took pole, having been in danger at one stage of missing out on the third stage of qualifying.

The prospect of a locked-out Mercedes front row was disrupted by Max Verstappen, with the Red Bull driver outpacing Valtteri Bottas.

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

There was almost the shock to end all shocks: Hamilton being absent from Q3.

Sebastian Vettel's spin in the Ferrari triggered a red flag in the closing minutes of Q2 and that gave Hamilton a problem.

Looking to cross the start-finish line in time to allow himself another lap, Hamilton managed that and found a big lap to avert the prospect of him starting the race in midfield.

He avoided a stewards' punishment over a minor infraction when leaving the track briefly, and later described the session as "horrible".

An eighth pole of the season was a reminder of Hamilton's supremacy in this sport, and nobody would be surprised were he to win this race for a fifth time in seven seasons on Sunday.

The 1-2-3 in qualifying was no great surprise and reflected the drivers' season standings prior to Verstappen failing to finish twice at Mugello. The gap between the fastest laps of Hamilton and Verstappen was substantial - in F1 terms - at 0.563 seconds.

Neither Ferrari made it to Q3, Vettel licking his wounds after his crash and finishing 15th in the session, with Charles Leclerc 11th.

THE STARTING GRID

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 4. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) 6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
7. Esteban Ocon (Renault) 8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 10. Alex Albon (Red Bull) 
11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 12. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) 14. George Russell (Williams)
15. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 16. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 18. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams). 20. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

Hamilton is at that satisfying stage of his career where records keep falling to him, yet to match Schumacher's haul of 91 race wins would have seemed pie-in-the-sky talk to the young man who made his F1 entrance in the 2007 season.

That is the figure he can sensationally draw up alongside, with what would be a seventh race win of this strangest of seasons, Hamilton having already surpassed Schumacher's record haul of podium finishes this year.

A record-equalling seventh world title is also surely Hamilton's for the taking in the coming months, and there was a touch of Schumacher's resilience about him taking this latest pole after being backed up into a position of adversity.

Aside from the likelihood of a close battle in the opening few corners, one potential strategy issue for Hamilton is that he will start on the less durable soft tyres after his narrow Q2 escape, while closest rivals Verstappen and Bottas are on mediums.

As for Ferrari, well god bless the Prancing Horse but this season goes from bad to worse. After the short-lived succour of Vettel and Leclerc both finishing in the points at the team's 1,000th F1 race, last time out in the Tuscan Grand Prix, this was the latest in a long line of qualifying sob stories.

Twelve months ago, Leclerc stormed the qualifying session in Sochi, earning a fourth successive pole. They are wretchedly slow this year, which is a problem Leclerc and Vettel have to tolerate and get on with the job. Sunday's grand prix is again unlikely to bring great joy for the Italian marque.

Meanwhile, if Sergio Perez wanted to make a point on Saturday, he very much succeeded. Set to be cut free at the end of the season by Racing Point, to allow for Vettel's arrival, Perez accused some Racing Point team members of attempting to hide things from him ahead of this weekend.

Clear-the-air talks followed, and Perez qualified on the second row on Saturday, nine places ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, pole): "It’s nice to take pole position, but this track is probably the worst place to be on pole, due to the long run to the first braking zone. So, I’m expecting a tough fight down to Turn 2 and a challenging race, especially as I’m starting on the soft tyre, which is a good compound for the race start but is the worst tyre for the opening stint." 

Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 2nd): "P2 was very unexpected and I don’t say this often but I think this was one of my best ever qualifying laps and it felt really good. Of course we want to fight for pole and wins but this year it is not possible all the time, so then to be able to split the two Mercedes cars is very satisfying and I’m happy to be on the front row here. I think the Mercedes does still have more overall pace so they will be hard to beat but I’m happy with [qualifying] and I think we really extracted more than we thought was possible and we can be very happy with that."

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes, 3rd): "There are some question marks there, which we’ll need to look into in the debrief and figure out why there was such a gap. But P3 is actually a pretty good place to start here and I think I’m on the right tyre as well. I’ve started third here before and look what happened, so I’ll try and do the same. It’s still all to play for."

Sergio Perez (Racing Point, 4th): "I’m very happy with our performance today: I think P4 was the maximum I could achieve because Max and the two Mercedes were very strong out there. We were able to qualify ahead of our nearest rivals, which is the main thing. It was a really tough session because the wind kept changing and we had the disruption of the red flag too. It’s a credit to the team that we were able to manage the sessions so well and extract the maximum from the car."

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari, 11th): "We definitely had the pace to do something good, much better than expected. Unfortunately, we missed our chance, so I’m pretty disappointed, but that’s life.
It is frustrating that we didn’t make it to Q3 because I really believe that we had the potential to go through today."

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari, 15th): "When I crashed I was trying to improve my time. I hadn’t had a good first sector so I was pushing. It seems that I was going too quickly and so I lost the car. It had already happened in turn 2 and then it happened again in turn 4. I tried to avoid the impact, but I couldn’t catch it. I’m sorry to have made extra work for the team, but at least I think the car can be fixed."

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers 

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 190
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 135
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 57
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) - 63

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 325
2. Red Bull – 173
3. McLaren – 106
4. Racing Point – 92 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 82

Daniel Ricciardo admits to feeling envious of Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver closes in on another Formula One milestone. 

Should he triumph at the Russian Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton will move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher on 91 wins in F1. 

The 35-year-old Briton has topped the podium in six of the nine races in 2020 and has a strong record in Sochi, where he has been victorious four times in his career. 

Asked about the impending landmark for Hamilton ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Renault DP World F1 Team driver Ricciardo told Stats Perform News: "Yeah, it's huge. 

"My generation, growing up as a kid, it's Schumacher. Everyone knew that surname… whether you knew Formula One or you didn't. It was always Schumacher. 

"And for Lewis to now be on the verge of eclipsing that, it's huge. It's a lot of wins… what can I say, it's a massive achievement. I envy it, but also I take my hat off to him." 

Hamilton also looks set to match another Schumacher record by winning a seventh F1 title this season. 

He holds a 55-point advantage over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who Ricciardo thinks is best placed to stop Hamilton but is still unlikely to do so. 

"Nothing is obviously guaranteed, there's still a lot that can happen in the sport, but the truth is, he's racing against one other guy this year," said Ricciardo. 

"And that's not being critical, but the Mercedes is so dominant. But it's really Valtteri, he’s the only guy that can stop him. And it's not the first year that Lewis has shown he's able to come out on top with Valtteri. 

"I think Valtteri has shown speed, he does have raw speed, but there's winning a world title. Being a world champion is something else and for me, [Bottas is] still yet to really show that and to show the same level that Lewis shows. 

"Unless we see a rapid change with Valtteri, I think Lewis has this one under control." 

Hamilton has also been looking to make an impact away from the track in 2020, speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and establishing a task force aimed at increasing diversity in motorsport. 

"I think he's obviously been very outspoken, so it's obviously good to see. It's him and it's other athletes around the world, the opportunity we have, if we stand for something, we've got such a platform to deliver it and be heard," said Ricciardo. 

"He's obviously gone above and beyond with Black Lives Matter and I know he's supporting quite a lot else. For us, it's good to see that, it's important for us to be included in it, and not only himself but if any driver has an idea or a thought that they want to go ahead with, it's nice to all show support together if we feel the same as the other individual. 

"At the end of the day, I think everyone wants – when I say everyone, obviously not everyone, but most people in the world with let's say, a heart, wants progress and wants the world to be a better place. I like when people want to do good with their platform and Lewis is trying that." 

He added: "I've certainly been inspired this year by certain individuals and it's encouraged me to speak up. 

"Even if it's not on social media, if it's with my friends, trying to educate them, especially because we travel, my friends say, that live in Perth, they don't see everything I see, so trying to share some of my international wisdom, it feels nice."

Lewis Hamilton has the chance to make Formula One history this week at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver, who is dominating the 2020 drivers' championship as he holds a 55-point lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, is on 90 career wins.

If he can make it 91, Hamilton would equal the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher, an accomplishment few thought was possible when the German – who has held the record since passing Alain Prost in 2001 - retired eight years ago.

The race begins 14:10 local time (12:10 BST) on Sunday, with the rest of the grid attempting to at least delay Hamilton writing his latest chapter in the history of motorsport.

LAST TIME OUT

Hamilton triumphed in a tumultuous Tuscan Grand Prix, beating Bottas as Max Verstappen retired on lap one to increase his championship lead.

There were two red flags - the first time that has happened in Formula One since Brazil in 2016 – and three safety cars amid chaos caused by multiple crashes.

Bottas was in prime position to win after overtaking pole-sitter Hamilton at the start, but the Briton, who also claimed the fastest lap, fought back to win for the sixth time this season.

While there was woe for Verstappen, some consolation for Red Bull saw Alex Albon claim his first career podium in third, a welcome result at a time Pierre Gasly – the surprise winner in Monza – was being connected with his seat.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN RUSSIA

All eyes will be on Hamilton's record pursuit and his past form in Russia bodes well. He has reached the podium in five out of six appearances, with four wins, a second place and a fourth place to his name. His Mercedes team have won all six previous editions.

Bottas has been despondent after challenging Hamilton at multiple races but being unable to put together a full race weekend to defeat his relentless team-mate. Unless there is a huge turn of events at the scene of his first career win this weekend, the title appears to be slipping away for the Finn.

Verstappen has dropped out of contention too after two straight retirements and will be desperate to get back on the podium. 

And while his team-mate Albon had an enjoyable race at Mugello last time out, he still has plenty to prove having been out-qualified by Verstappen at all nine races in 2020. He does have fond memories of this circuit, though, after rallying to finish fifth last year from a pit-lane start.

Three straight top-six finishes for Daniel Ricciardo have underlined Renault's improvement, but a podium remains elusive for the Australian, who will be replaced by Fernando Alonso next year when he moves to McLaren.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Hope for the rest? – This season Mercedes have locked out the front row on seven occasions in qualifying, but only converted that to a one-two finish on three occasions.

Qualifying key – Only once at this race has a driver won from outside of the front row (Bottas from third on the grid in 2017).

Red Bull lacking wings in Russia – The Austrian team have never recorded a podium finish in six attempts at this grand prix.

Ferrari flailing – Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have failed to reach the podium for five straight races. If that happens again in Russia, it will be their worst run since also going six in a row without a top-three placing in 2016.

Russian Rubens – Kimi Raikkonen is looking to equal Rubens Barrichello as the driver to have raced the most grands prix in F1 ever (323). Vettel is also set to reach a milestone – he is poised to make his 250th career start.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 190
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 135
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 65
5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - 63

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 325
2. Red Bull – 173
3. McLaren – 106
4. Racing Point – 92 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Renault – 83

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