AUSTIN: Lewis Hamilton will emulate his childhood hero Ayrton Senna and join a select group of Formula One drivers’ world champions with three or more titles if he can outscore nearest rival Sebastian Vettel by nine points at Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.
A third victory in four years at the Circuit of the Americas would be enough for him to add a third title to those of 2008 and 2014 if Ferrari’s Vettel finishes outside the top two.
That would place him alongside Australian Jack Brabham, Briton Jackie Stewart, Austrian Niki Lauda and Brazilians Nelson Piquet and Senna with three titles apiece.
Frenchman Alain Prost and Vettel each have four title wins, while Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio won five and German Michael Schumacher seven.
The 30-year-old has won nine races this year for a total of 302 points, a lead of 66 ahead of Vettel, who has won three times in his first season with Ferrari. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, German Nico Rosberg, who also has won three races, is third with 229 points.
Hamilton, however, is taking nothing for granted as he seeks to secure the title on American soil. “I’m going to take my time and work as hard as ever,” said Hamilton. “My goal is to win a third title and until I achieve that there is no other goal. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this car.”
The Briton added he is looking forward to racing on one of his favourite tracks. “I love going to Austin — the track has been amazing for me since the first race. I am looking forward to it. It is a track where you can race and get close to people,” he said.
Hamilton joined the team in their celebrations after retaining the constructors’ championship at Sochi. “It was great to catch up with the team back at the factories and to celebrate together,” he said. “I can’t say enough [of] how grateful I am for all their hard work and it’s important that we relish these moments. Austin is one of the highlights of the season for me.”
He may have some breathing room but Hamilton knows he cannot afford to be complacent. “I’ve learned from experience in this sport that nothing is ever done until it’s done — so I am taking nothing for granted,” he said. “I’ll approach the race in the same way as all the others this year. I know there are four races left for me to get this championship tied up and, as long as it’s done by the time I cross the line in Abu Dhabi, that’s what really counts.”