Lewis Hamilton has no burning desire to emulate any other driver in Formula One’s glittering history after he matched Ayrton Senna’s haul of three world championships on Sunday.
Hamilton, who has spoken of his admiration for the great Brazilian throughout his career, won a dramatic race in Austin to assume an unassailable lead in the title race. Nico Rosberg looked set to put Hamilton’s coronation on hold before he made an unforced error with seven laps remaining and ran off the track. Hamilton took full advantage and became the first British driver to successfully defend his grand prix crown and the 10th to win the Formula One championship three times or more.
Only four other drivers can lay claim to having won the title on four or more occasions – Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel – but joining their company was not the aim Hamilton was desperate to accomplish.
“For me it was always to get the three that Ayrton had,” said Hamilton when asked if he had set his sights on emulating Michael Schumacher’s record tally of seven titles.
“He wasn’t from the same country as me but he was the guy that inspired me as a youngster. Now I’m like ‘I don’t know where it’s going next’. There is no-one else I look to, that I want to equal or emulate now.”
Hamilton, who surpassed his boyhood hero Senna’s tally of 41 career victories in Russia earlier this month, added: “I feel like I’ve got the baton now for myself and Ayrton and I’m going to carry it as far as I can, as strong as I can and keep building and see where I take it.
“As a kid, I just wanted to be world champion and so it’s kind of crazy to think that me and Ayrton, in terms of championships, stand on the same line which is just the greatest.”
Hamilton can now head to the final three rounds in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi safe in the knowledge his third championship is in the bank. It is a different sensation for the Briton whose two previous triumphs have been determined at season finales in Abu Dhabi last year and in Brazil in 2008.
“The first I won 17 seconds before the end of the race, and obviously last year it was amazing but it took a lot out of us,” said Hamilton added.
“This one still feels just as special, if not more special. I think this has to have topped last year for me, being as it’s equalling Ayrton.”