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Lewis Hamilton divides opinion but is undoubtedly the best of British | Richard Williams

Mercedes driver’s fourth F1 world title takes him beyond arguments even of the romantics who venerate Jim Clark and Sir Stirling Moss above all

Lewis Hamilton, by winning his fourth world championship, one more than Sir Jackie Stewart, has established himself as the greatest British racing driver of all time. Such a sweeping claim will always be open to dispute and to inspection in different lights but the only light that really counts is the one that shines on the bare statistics.

Hamilton’s latest milestone – and he is only 32, so his journey is far from over – marks his arrival at the pinnacle of a line of British heroes that began between the wars with Sir Henry Segrave and Richard Seaman and continued with the holders of the official world title inaugurated in 1950: Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button. His achievement takes him beyond the arguments even of the romantics who venerate the two great British virtuosos of grand prix history: Clark, a double champion so tragically unlucky to be cut down at the age Hamilton is today, and Sir Stirling Moss, the greatest driver never to win the championship.

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