I see a lot of discussion here and elsewhere about Lewis Hamilton's performance vs various other drivers past and present. I have to say that I find most of it to be absurdly partisan with people cherry-picking the statistics and historic records they prefer in order to argue for or against one driver or the other.
The best way to compare drivers is for them to be in the same car at the same time and racing each other. Even then pit stop strategy (called by the team), safety cars, other drivers (crashing into them, holding them up deliberately or otherwise, causing yellow or red flags, etc), mechanical & software failures, etc can affect the outcome of a race or season. So even if this were possible it will also be an imperfect comparison.
Given that direct comparison is not possible and also imperfect the next best option is to look at performance over a whole career making sure to take account of mitigating factors like early death/retirement.
I find this table of statistics very useful and illuminating. I hope it posts successfully.
It has what I consider to be the nine most successful F1 drivers of all time.
Obviously, others could be included, Brabham, Piquet, etc but I think most would include these in their top dozen most successful drivers. This is not a most entertaining driver or fastest driver list so it doesn't include, for example, Moss, Mansell, Hunt or Villeneuve
For each statistical category, the top 4 (of these 9) are indicated with green background. Dark for 1st light for 4th.
There is a great deal that goes into being a successful driver. Speed is important and is demonstrated by pole positions and fastest laps. Consistency is important and is demonstrated by podium finishes & the percentage of race wins as well as championships. The ability to set up the car for a race, not just qualifying, is also important and is covered here by comparing pole position stats with race win & podium stats. Other factors are less well covered here like political skills (getting into the best team, negotiating leading driver contract, etc).
A number of things are very striking in the table & we could spend hours discussing but I'll let you look and form your own opinions. It helps to bear a few things in mind.
1. Drivers from the 1950s & '60s drove fewer races so their total numbers are less, but looking at the percentage wins, podiums, etc shows how good Fangio and Clark were. (Jim Clark doesn't get the credit he deserves in the mainstream media IMO).
2. Drivers from the 1990s,2000s & 2010s drove more races which makes it easier to get bigger totals but harder to get high percentage numbers.
The issue of "who is the best F1 driver" can never be settled but these and other statistics show that Hamilton deserves to be considered the best of his era. It would be such a joy to watch a race weekend with equal equipment between these nine plus another dozen or so from the past. Who would you include in such a race?