Interesting choice, of the BBC, putting Lewis 15th in the "20 Greatest Ever F1 drivers".
I think he's a good driver, maybe even great, but I do think it's a little premature to rank him at this stage, particularly given that, of the current field Vettel, Alonso, and Schumacher must stand above him in the rankings, while Jenson Button, his McLaren Team-mate is definitely in the mix, probably outranking Hamilton at this stage of their respective careers.
Hamilton is fast, we know that and he has cajones when it comes to having a go, but he came into the sport with a top two team and therefore, with his natural ability there was no question but that he wouldn't prosper. Having said that he currently only has one driver's championship and hasn't had the best of times during 2011 and 2012.
Much is made of his first season and the fact that his ability had a negative impact on Fernando Alonso. I'd accept that but let's look at it from Alonso's perspective. He's a double world champion coming into the McLaren set-up against a rookie Hamilton. He expects to be the clear No.1 and is upset when McLaren's fair play policy is revealed. To add insult to injury Hamilton is a Ron Denis protege and he's given extra support by the team on the back of that fact in combination with his rookie status. After all you have to look after the new boys a little more because you expect the old guard to be able to look after themselves.
But then Alonso is only 25 and he's been clear No.1 since his first results with Minardi. He too is used to being given a little extra from the team due to his protege relationship with Flavio Briatore and he's now in unfamiliar territory in an unfamiliar team set-up where he's expected to stand on his own two feet without the extra time and handholding which he can see going on over at Hamilton's side of the garage.
Psychologically that must have been devastating and this coloured that season. Does this mean Hamilton is better than Alonso? I think Fernando has earned his stripes and has matured since that disastrous 2007 season. Hamilton still has a little growing up to do though he's showing more maturity in his approach to this season than he has previously.
Is Lewis Hamilton in the top 20 of all time? I don't think so: not yet and maybe never. He's got plenty of potential to be there but he's got a lot of career to go before any serious call can be made. Give us another championship and show us some classic drives and we can make that judgement call.
I can't fill a top 20 driver's line-up but I might give a top 15 a go in a later post.