In his 300th race, Hamilton goes for 1st win of 2022

PARIS — Lewis Hamilton heads into his 300th Formula One start at the French Grand Prix at the weekend in the unusual position of seeking his first

PARIS — Lewis Hamilton heads into his 300th Formula One start at the French Grand Prix at the weekend in the unusual position of seeking his first win of the season.

The seven-time world champion holds the F1 record with 103 wins and 103 pole positions, but the 37-year-old British driver also shares two records with the great Michael Schumacher: Seven world titles and winning at least one race in 15 consecutive seasons. Schumacher has won every year since his F1 debut in 1992 until 2006, while Hamilton has one every year since his series debut in 2007.

But Hamilton hasn’t won for the first 12 races this season. He is inching closer to the top of the podium after three straight podium finishes since Mercedes resolved the current rebounding issues. F1 runs the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

“It’s been really positive to have some consistency. We are constantly adding performance, we are constantly making progress and there is a lot to come,” said Hamilton. “In the last race (in Austria) we were just a few tenths (of a second) behind the drivers at the front in qualifying.

As for the highlights of his illustrious career, Hamilton selected his first F1 victory in 2007, his first title in 2008 and triumph at his home circuit at Silverstone.

“The whole realization of reaching your dream is a very, very surreal experience and it will always be a first,” Hamilton said. “The number of sleepless nights as a family that we all had, not knowing whether or not we would reach our goal, reach our dream, but never give up.”

There have been intense rivalries, including last season when Red Bull star Max Verstappen clinched the title at the controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton also suffered a bitter defeat to fellow Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016 and some falling out with Fernando Alonso in 2007 with McLaren.

When Hamilton faced Alonso, the Spaniard had already won both of his F1 titles. He calls Alonso his toughest opponent “for sheer pace, I always say it’s Fernando.

“We had some good battles, I wish we could have more,” Hamilton said. “I remember the task of being by Fernando’s side when he was 22 years old. He was very young mentally and of course he was fine in terms of ability, but it’s a lot of pressure to go against a big guy.”

Hamilton missed Friday’s first practice for the French GP when Mercedes used test and reserve driver Nyck de Vries in the car. De Vries finished ninth. Hamilton was fifth fastest, behind Mercedes teammate George Russell, in the second practice session.

Ferrari dominated both sessions on Friday Charles Leclerc led the first session ahead of Verstappen and teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. and then the Spaniard was quickest in the second practice, beating Leclerc and Verstappen.