Singapore Grand Prix: Lewis is chasing history

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning on the podium at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on Aug 23, 2015.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning on the podium at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on Aug 23, 2015.PHOTO: AFP
Leaders of different religious faiths give their blessings for a smooth running of this year's Singapore GP, with Lewis Hamilton tipped to continue his winning form.
Leaders of different religious faiths give their blessings for a smooth running of this year's Singapore GP, with Lewis Hamilton tipped to continue his winning form.PHOTOS COURTESY OF SINGAPORE GP
A forklift carrying a container holding parts of a Red Bull racing car as preparations switch into high gear for this weekend's night race here.
A forklift carrying a container holding parts of a Red Bull racing car as preparations switch into high gear for this weekend's night race here.PHOTOS COURTESY OF SINGAPORE GP

He can match legendary Senna's number of pole positions and race victories in S'pore GP

Lewis Hamilton was a front-row fixture alongside Hollywood stars and socialites at the recent New York Fashion Week.

But a front-row spot at the Marina Bay Street Circuit this weekend will mean even more for the Briton, for it puts him on a par with his childhood idol.

An eighth consecutive pole position at the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix will tie Hamilton with the late Ayrton Senna's all-time record while a win draws him level with the Brazilian legend for race victories (41).

He is already a shoo-in to retain the drivers' world championship, a comfortable 53 points ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with seven races remaining.

It was hardly a surprise then that the 30-year-old appeared relaxed in a tweet announcing his arrival in Singapore yesterday.

It is a stark contrast with Rosberg, who has spoken of going on "maximum attack" as he has "nothing to lose" in his bid for a maiden drivers' title.

But there seems little the German can do to stop Hamilton, who has out-qualified him 11-1 this year. The latter is, after all, driven by history.

"Since I was a boy, I have always wanted to emulate Ayrton and be as similar to him as l could - while still being myself," the Briton said in an interview with Sky Sports.

"I have always wanted to drive a car like he could or handle a car like he could."

That he has, as witnessed at the recent Italian GP.

Hamilton's victory - by a whopping 25-second margin over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - was all the more special as he led in every lap from pole position before setting the race's fastest lap and taking the chequered flag.

As Rosberg suffered an engine failure with two laps to go, Hamilton cruised to his seventh win in a season where he has missed the podium just once in 12 races.

He said: "It's quite surreal to think that 20 years later, l am fighting for a similar number of podiums or championships, but we have to remember that if he continued, he would have won many more.

"But l feel proud to be in terms of results to be similar to such a great."

A former karting champion, Hamilton treats every triumph like his first to remain hungry even as the silverware and endorsements pile up.

It is perhaps his tribute to Senna, an aggressive racer who was killed in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino GP.

Revealing his race psyche, Hamilton said: "You are always faced with a challenge and you are always pushing yourself to get better.

"It's pretty much impossible to get the perfect lap so you are always chasing the perfect lap and every Sunday feels different - you wake up on the wrong side of bed, your mood or your energy levels feel different. You never know what is going to happen in a race."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline 'Lewis is chasing history'. Print Edition | Subscribe