MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - Lewis Hamilton said he felt humbled to become a five times Formula One world champion on Sunday (Oct 28), and the enormity of his achievement had yet to sink in.
The Mercedes driver joined the late Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only men to win at least five titles after finishing fourth in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.
More people have walked on the moon than have won five crowns in a championship that started in 1950. Only Schumacher has won more than the man who could one day surpass even the German.
"Let me just try and realise that I've won this one," commented Hamilton when asked about Schumacher's seven.
"It's very, very weird. I remember when I won a championship in Formula Three, and even then it didn't register. I hope this kicks in soon, I definitely feel more excitement coming as I think about it more." Hamilton has won 71 races, 20 fewer than Schumacher, and four titles for Mercedes in the past five years. The first was with McLaren in 2008.
Despite coming to Mexico with a 70-point advantage and needing only to finish seventh to wrap things up, he expressed amazement at where he now found himself.
"Right now I feel very, very humbled by the whole experience," he said.
"It's hard to realise it at the moment. It's something that of course I dreamed of, but I never in a million years thought that I would be standing here today as a five-time world champion." Thanking everyone on his team, his family and father for their faith and sacrifices, Hamilton said it had definitely been his best season yet.
"It was a goal," he explained."When I won the championship last year I was, like, 'how can I improve, how can I be fitter, more focused, manage my time better, just be a better all-round driver not just in the car but also with my team in the garage, with the engineers, back at the factory?' I think this year I've been able to lift them all up.
"I don't know if that's something that comes with age, maybe experience helps, but I honestly feel I've performed my best this year. I'm very happy with how it's gone."
Hamilton thanked the team also for their belief and hard work.
"For me, I feel like I can drive anything and I feel like I can take the car to places that nobody else can," he said.
"But to do that you have to get the car in the right place, and ultimately you've got to work with the team to help unleash what's great within them and unleash the greatness in yourself."