Lewis Hamilton does not believe a fourth world championship crown will elevate him above his childhood hero Ayrton Senna in the pantheon of Formula One’s all-time greats.
Hamilton earns his second shot at glory in Mexico City on Sunday and needs to finish only fifth to beat Sebastian Vettel to the title.
The odds are stacked heavily in his favour. The Brit has finished in 22 consecutive grands prix and, of all those occasions, he has failed to finish outside the top five just once.
Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of a fourth world title (Marco Ugarte/AP)
Indeed Mercedes’ imperious reliability coupled with Hamilton’s potent form – he has won five of the six races since the summer break – leaves him on course to surpass Sir Jackie Stewart as the only British driver to be the owner of more than three championships.
Hamilton’s idol Senna won three titles before his death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Hamilton, who broke down upon hearing the news, surpassed the Brazilian’s number of victories in 2015, before eclipsing his haul of pole positions in Canada this year.
“Ayrton’s life was cut short and had he had the opportunity to continue and race in safe conditions, he would have won more championships,” Hamilton, 32, said. “I don’t look upon him and think that I am better because I have more wins, more championships and more poles, but I feel very proud that my name is mentioned alongside his.
“The bucket list at the moment is winning the fourth world championship and then after that it is on to next one.”
Hamilton will have his mother Brenda with him this weekend, while Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez will be in his corner, too.
Hamilton’s father Anthony – the man who shaped his remarkable career – could also be among the Mercedes driver’s guest list on Sunday. Hamilton Snr flew out to Abu Dhabi on the morning of his son’s championship triumph back in 2014, and he will take a late decision as to whether he is here to watch a probable fourth coronation.
The title battle looked set to go to the wire, but rival Vettel’s failure to finish two of the three grands prix staged in the Far East has left Hamilton with one hand on the title.
Hamilton, who finished second to team-mate Valtteri Bottas in opening practice on Friday, only led the championship for the first time this year following his dominant victory at September’s Italian Grand Prix. Indeed, Hamilton trailed Vettel by 25 points after the Ferrari driver roared to victory in Monaco and he could finish only seventh. But after establishing an eye-watering 66-point lead over Vettel, he needs just nine more.
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