The arduous task of the sevenfold champions
Several Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers have become seven-time champions. But none of them have ever won an eighth title. Will Lewis Hamilton end this trend?
Lewis Hamilton made history at the Turkish Grand Prix in November 2020 at Intercity Istanbul Park by winning his seventh career Formula 1 World Championship and fourth consecutive title.
Before Hamilton’s efforts to win the championship, Formula 1 had only seen one seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher. Schumacher won the titles in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Hamilton has now won titles in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
But while Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar have seen quite a few seven-time champions over the years, none of them have ever managed to be successful in their respective quests to become eight-time champions.
Of course, there was no guarantee Hamilton would even try; He overtook Schumacher for the record for career wins with his 92nd win last season, and he only signed a contract extension about a month before the start of preseason testing, when he became the 20th and last driver to land a contract for 2021.
Take a look at the history of each of the other seven champions.
As noted, Schumacher is the only seven-time Formula 1 champion aside from Hamilton. He had five chances to win an eighth championship, having competed in 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012, but he failed each time.
In the NASCAR Cup Series, there have been three seven-time champions: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson.
Petty won his seventh title in 1979, then went 0 for 13 in his quest for an eighth. Earnhardt won his seventh title in 1994 and was killed during the season opener of his seventh attempt for an eighth in 2001. Johnson’s fourth attempt for an eighth title after winning a seventh in 2016 was timid l last year, and he retired after the 2020 season.
AJ Foyt is the only seven-time IndyCar champion. Although he did not retire until 1993, 14 years after winning his seventh championship in 1979, he only spent three seasons as a full-time driver trying to win an eighth title.
Together, that makes those five seven-time champions 0 for 32 in terms of an eighth title. Of course, that shouldn’t be that shocking, given how difficult it is to stay on top for an extended period of time.
Still, the Five-Time Champions and Six-Time Champions have had some pretty impressive success when it comes to winning the sixth and seventh titles, and that makes sense, given that they are, in fact, five-time and six-time champions. champions.
The only five-time Formula One champion aside from Schumacher and Hamilton is Juan Manuel Fangio, who did not compete full time after winning his fifth title in 1957.
As for Schumacher, he won his sixth title on his first attempt as a five-time champion in 2003. Hamilton did the same in 2019.
The only five-time NASCAR champions are the three-seven-time champions. Petty won his sixth title on his first attempt as a five-time champion in 1975 while Earnhardt won his sixth title on his second attempt as a five-time champion in 1993. Johnson won his sixth title on his third attempted as a five-time champion in 2013.
Scott Dixon won his sixth IndyCar Championship on his second attempt as a five-time champion in 2020. Foyt is an outlier here, because without him those other seven drivers are 6 for 10 as a five-time champion. He went 1 for 8, winning his sixth championship in 1975 after winning his fifth in 1967.
Still, these drivers are an impressive 7-for-18 in terms of moving from five-time champions to six-time champions.
In terms of six-time champions to seven-time champions, they’ve been successful as well. Schumacher and Hamilton both won their seventh titles in their first attempts, the first in 2004 and the second in 2020.
Petty won his seventh title on his fourth attempt in 1979 while Earnhardt won his on his first in 1994. Johnson won his seventh title on his third attempt in 2016. Foyt won his on his fourth attempt in 1979.
Together these pilots are 6 for 14.
However, seven times champions passing to eight times champions, it is an intimidating 0 for 32. Will Hamilton reverse the trend during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which ends this Sunday on a revamped Yas Marina circuit? He and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are tied atop the drivers’ standings after the first 21 races of the 22-race season, with Verstappen ranked as the leader due to more wins.
Will Dixon ever end up winning a seventh and then an eighth IndyCar title? It is possible, but history does not exactly favor it.