MEXICO CITY • Lewis Hamilton feels a fifth Formula One title would be his "proudest" achievement and he wants to seal it by winning tomorrow's Mexican Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver, who is set to equal the title tally of the late Argentinian great Juan Manuel Fangio, needs to finish only seventh to be sure of the world championship title with two races to spare.
The Briton won last year's title despite finishing ninth in Mexico after a collision with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel at the start, and while he is in an almost identical position to emulate that feat, Hamilton wants to take the chequered flag at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit this time round.
"It's an added bonus to an already great year when you do win the race to get the title. My goal is to try to win the race this weekend," he told reporters on Thursday.
"I remember when I won my first (title in 2008), one of the ex-champions had said its always harder to get the second, which it felt like it was. The first one felt incredibly hard already, but from then on, it just got harder and harder to win a championship.
"So if I were to win the title it would be one I would probably be most proud of and able to appreciate most."
Hamilton has won nine races this season, to Vettel's five, and is 70 points clear of the German. Another win would be the 72nd of his career, leaving him 19 adrift of the all-time record held by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in the sport.
The race will be the 33-year-old 's second chance to wrap up the season after he failed to do so last weekend by finishing third at the United States Grand Prix, and Hamilton is not prepared to let things drag on until Brazil.
"In the past, sitting back and watching grands prix on TV with bacon toasties, I would have wanted it to go to the end. But I'm not in that seat (now)," he said.
He also touched on how his head was now in a good place, adding: "It's not my first rodeo. I'm guessing that's just the place that I am at in my life. Being that I am a bit older and I have the experience to know what I need to do to get myself into shape, and I'm just really enjoying racing."
While Hamilton's demeanour in the Mexican capital has been zen-like, the opposite can be said of Vettel, who again fielded questions about his costly mistakes.
Vettel's biggest blunder this season occurred when he crashed into a tyre wall at Hockenheim while in first place, and with three similar incidents since - in Italy, Japan and Texas - he accepts that the criticism has been fair.
The 31-year-old, however, suggested that those "weird" spins may have been caused by aerodynamics rather than driver error.
"I guess there must be some sort of hole being on the inside of another car in that position. On all three occasions, I wasn't clearly ahead, at best side-by-side, maybe next time, I (will) try the outside." he said.
REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON
F1 MEXICAN GP
Practice 3 & qualifying Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 10.55pm & tomorrow, 1.45am