Senna's tally the driving force for Lewis

Lewis Hamilton leads Nico Rosberg, his team-mate and closest rival, by 53 points with seven races remaining.
Lewis Hamilton leads Nico Rosberg, his team-mate and closest rival, by 53 points with seven races remaining.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton will arrive in Singapore next week with a 53-point lead in the Formula One championship.

So huge is the gap between him and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg that Hamilton can afford to finish second in the last seven races of the season and still become the first British driver to retain his crown.

But the 30-year-old has vowed to win his third F1 world title in style by winning all the remaining races.

"You guys come up with those statistics each year but it is absolutely irrelevant - I have got to win every race from now on," he told the British media.

"I don't go into the next races thinking I have got to finish second. I think that I have got to win every race."

He also has extra motivation to complete a hat-trick of wins at the Marina Bay street circuit.

Another victory would take his career tally to 41 wins from 161 races - exactly the same number as his boyhood hero and late three-time champion Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton is in ominous form. Not only did he set the fastest lap times in all three practice sessions and all three segments of qualifying in Monza, but he also led every lap of last weekend's Italian Grand Prix and set the race's fastest lap to claim his second career "grand slam" and his first since Malaysia in 2014.

"I feel seriously strong now with the way I am driving and the way I feel with this car, and the way I gel with the engineers - they are doing an incredible job," added Hamilton, who won five of the six races after Monza last year. "I thought it was the best weekend ever."

The Briton only led by this many points last year after winning at Abu Dhabi, where double points were awarded.

But former F1 driver Mark Webber believes his domination is also due to the lack of depth on the current grid.

"The depth has never been weaker," the Australian told BBC 5 Live.

"If you go from the top 10 back, there's a lot of these pay drivers on the grid. This is not good," he added, referring to the likes of Sauber's Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, who bring sponsorship to secure a seat in order to help their team reach its annual budget.

"We need to get that calibre of driver ... we've got it at the front (but) we need more depth.

"We (also) need the cars to be more exciting, faster, noisier... just put them on a level which they're not close to other categories. Now, they are. The cars I'm driving now are very similar on lap time. GP2, the category below F1, very similar on lap time. Not right."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Senna's tally the driving force for Lewis'. Print Edition | Subscribe