Gift of Senna helmet drives Hamilton to emotion

Lewis Hamilton with the replica of a helmet belonging to the late F1 world champion Ayrton Senna, whose record of 65 pole positions he equalled in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton with the replica of a helmet belonging to the late F1 world champion Ayrton Senna, whose record of 65 pole positions he equalled in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MONTREAL • An emotional Lewis Hamilton admitted he felt lost for words on Saturday when he was given a replica of his hero Ayrton Senna's 1987 canary-yellow race helmet after equalling the Brazilian's total of 65 pole positions.

"Wow, I am shaking," said the three-time world champion, who had broken the lap record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to securing pole for Mercedes in yesterday's Canadian Grand Prix.

"I am speechless," added the Briton as he was interviewed after receiving the helmet on track. "Ayrton was my favourite driver. He inspired me to be where I am today."

He had become the first man to break the 1min 12sec barrier at the circuit and had to trim his time to 1:11.459 to resist the challenge of championship-leading Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who qualified second.

The original helmet was worn by Senna in 1987 when he raced for the Lotus-Honda team. The replica was a gift from his family.

Hamilton said: "It's the most special thing I have, beyond all the trophies and everything. I am so honoured to be honoured by that family." Asked where he planned to keep the helmet, he revealed: "I live in an apartment in Monaco and there's not a lot of space for a lot of trophies, but I definitely will have space for that one.

"It will be on my table, the centre-piece, in the living room and it will be the first thing you see when you come in."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Gift of Senna helmet drives Hamilton to emotion'. Print Edition | Subscribe