Hamilton chases first Brazil win to honour Senna

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton has equalled his legend and now he wants to salute him with a victory in Brazil this weekend.

The British Formula One driver modelled himself on Ayrton Senna as a child and set a target of three world championships, like his hero.

That objective has been achieved this season but victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix on the famous Interlagos circuit has so far eluded him.

Although Hamilton won his first world championship in memorable fashion in Sao Paulo in 2008, he has generally struggled at Interlagos.

He was leading three years ago in his final race for McLaren, only to be taken out by Nico Huelkenberg.

A graffiti of Ayrton Senna - created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra - adorns the wall of a building in Sao Paulo. The late Formula One driving great is the idol of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton who has matched the Brazilian's haul of three world championship titles. PHOTO: REUTERS

There are parallels with Senna too- who did not win on home soil until his eighth attempt, in 1991.

Hamilton, 30, has also earmarked Sunday's race because it is one of the few that he has not won.

"This was Ayrton's home race so it was a dream to race in Sao Paulo when I was younger and I always feel his presence when I'm there," he said.

"He was such a huge hero in Brazil and it's humbling that I always get such a warm response.

"It's amazing it took Ayrton eight attempts to win this race. If I can do that this weekend, it would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year, so I'll be going all out to make that happen."

With the drivers' championship wrapped up, Hamilton is facing an increasingly feisty rivalry with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Although Toto Wolff, the Mercedes head of motorsport, has described it as "good for the sport and for the team", it threatens to boil over in the two remaining dead rubbers.

  • 8

    Number of attempts by Ayrton Senna before his first Brazilian GP victory in 1991


    This will be Lewis Hamilton's ninth try at winning at Interlagos

Rosberg won this race last ­season, absorbing extreme pressure from Hamilton in the final 20 laps.

The German is determined to spoil Hamilton's party, fresh from winning last time out in Mexico.

Rosberg's Mexican Grand Prix victory was not without controversy, though.

Many believed Mercedes manufactured the win for the German after the team issued an order for Hamilton to stop for tyres for a second time.

Rosberg, who is now 21 points clear of Sebastian Vettel in the race for second place, is not bothered by that talk. He wants to take his good form from Mexico, where he also sealed pole, to the penultimate grand prix of the campaign.

"I've usually been pretty quick there and last year was a good battle with Lewis," he said.

"Standing on the top step after a hard-earned win, following in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won there and with the passionate Brazilian crowd cheering on - that was a great feeling.

"I'd love to experience that again so the aim is to put on another good show for the fans and to carry my form from Mexico into this race.

"It's always a great feeling to head into a weekend on the back of a win so I'm confident of a strong performance."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Hamilton chases first Brazil win to honour Senna'. Print Edition | Subscribe