Ben Edwards believes Lewis Hamilton is already a Formula One great — and is on his way to being regarded as the greatest of all time.
BBC’s lead television commentator, who lives in Wortham, on the A143 inbetween Bury St Edmunds and Diss, was in prime position to see the reigning champion prevail in a drama-filled British Grand Prix at Silverstone ahead of Mercedes team-mate and nearest rival Nico Rosberg.
In doing so, Hamilton not only strengthened his chances of retaining his crown with a 17 point advantage in the championship standings, but he also equalled the number of British GP wins of Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, moved to within one of Nigel Mansell and two of the great Alain Prost and Jim Clark’s overall record.
And while joining that list cements his place as one of the all-time British greats, Edwards believes Hamilton could eclipse all that have gone before him and become the best the sport has ever seen.
“In my mind he is already one of the greats, although he is not perfect,” he said. “He has that pure racing spirit and attacking instincts that the greats have all had.
“To me he is not just one of the British greats but across the whole of F1. He is an entertainer with so much skill, is incredibly fast and can qualify strongly, he has every element to be remembered as one of the all time greats, if not the greatest.
“It is difficult to say whether that will be the case until he finishes his career but I think he is certainly on his way there, I rate him that highly.”
Meanwhile, Edwards was also quick to jump to the defence of the sport after recent criticism surrounding a lack of entertainment.
A record crowd of more than 144,000 spectators lined the Silverstone circuit to see Hamilton, on pole, fight off an early assault from the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas to take victory with a pivotal decision to pit early amidst a rain storm, leaving Edwards to heap praise on the ever enthusiastic fans and the spectacle itself.
“I think it was a brilliant race which surprised everyone,” he added.
“We had the drama of the two Williams at the beginning surging through, the decisive rain and collisions, it had everything.
“The level of support and enthusiasm of the British Grand Prix fans never fails to astonish me.
“Their passion is incredible and we are very lucky to have a showpiece event like that in this country.
“Formula One has been in the doldrums in recent times but I think the weekend proved the quality is still there and it is a great spectacle.”