F1 2020

Lewis Hamilton on verge of Schumacher F1 wins record

If he can earn a fifth win in Russia, Lewis Hamilton will match Michael Schumacher's career total of 91 F1 wins.

F1 2020: Dominant Hamilton can equal Schumacher wins record in Sochi

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