Lewis Hamilton believes he can make Formula One history as the first driver to win a race after reaching the milestone of 300 grand prix starts.
The seven-time world champion, who has a record 103 wins, will become only the sixth driver to make 300 starts when he lines up on the grid in France on Sunday.
Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen bowed out last year after a record 349 races, but was without a win since 2018, while it has been nearly a decade since Spaniard Fernando Alonso (344), who is still active, last won.
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello (323 races), his former Ferrari teammate and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher (307) and Britain’s Jenson Button (306) retired long after their last triumphs.
Hamilton is not paying attention to those statistics.
“It doesn’t faze me because I’m working towards getting that win,” said the 37-year-old Briton, who has won in every season he has competed but has now gone 12 races without a victory for the first time in F1.
He made his debut at McLaren in 2007 with Alonso as his teammate, and the Spaniard, a two-time world champion who is now with Renault-owned Alpine, was sitting alongside him on Thursday.
“He had the talent already in 2007 and he still has the talent now, with experience,” Alonso said. “He has been a tremendous driver, a legend of our sport. It has been always a pleasure to share all this time with him.
“Back then, probably no one thought someone would be able to win seven titles as Michael (did). The journey has been amazing … and hopefully another win soon.”
Hamilton said his former teammate, now 40, had probably been his toughest opponent, even if comparisons were difficult and reflected different life stages.
“I think it’s difficult to say who has necessarily been the strongest competitor because every time you’re with someone, you’re in a different place in your life,” Hamilton said.
“I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young, mentally, and, of course, OK in terms of skill, but it’s a lot of pressure to go up against a great like Fernando.
“I would say on pure pace, Fernando. We had some good battles. I wish we could have more. Hopefully, he will continue to race so, hopefully, we’ll have more in the future.”
Hamilton was promoted to McLaren’s F1 team by boss Ron Dennis, who helped guide his development.
He shone immediately and claimed his first win in his sixth race, the Canadian Grand Prix, before their rivalry became embittered, leading to Alonso returning to Renault for 2008.
Fifteen years later, a mellowed Alonso, now 41, said he held no grudges and had always enjoyed racing against Hamilton.
“I don’t think that he has changed much, to be honest,” Alonso said.
Hamilton also cherishes the memory of his 2007 debut.
“The whole realization of a dream is a very surreal experience and it is always going to be your first — and there’s only one first,” he said.
“Just getting to that first Grand Prix, the amount of sleepless nights we all had as a family not knowing if we would reach that dream, but we never gave up nonetheless and, being there, that will be probably the real highlight.”