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Hamilton Now Running In The Senna Zone

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2015
Lewis Hamilton, with a third world championship under his belt, says he feel like Ayrton Senna.

Lewis Hamilton, with a third win in Texas and a third world championship under his belt, says he feels like Ayrton Senna.

AUSTIN, Texas – Lewis Hamilton’s latest victory at Circuit of The Americas not only clinched his third Formula One World Driving Championship, it also allowed the Brit to channel his inner Ayrton Senna.

formula1logo“As a kid I just wanted to be World Champion,” Hamilton said Sunday after his third U.S. Grand Prix victory in four starts at COTA. “So it’s kind of crazy to think that me and Ayrton, in terms of championships, stand on the same line which is the greatest.”

That was one of several references Hamilton made to Senna, the Brazilian superstar who won his F1 titles in 1988, 1990 and 1991 with McLaren-Honda before losing his life in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix  on May 1, 1994, at age 34. Hamilton was only 9-years-old then, one year before he boldly informed McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis that he wanted to be World Champion in his car. Hamilton fulfilled that goal with his first World Championship in 2008.

Hamilton’s subsequent two championships have come with Mercedes AMG Petronas, the German juggernaut that has dominated the sport over the last two seasons. Sunday’s win _ Hamilton’s 10th in 16 races and fifth in his last six starts _ allowed him to clinch with three races remaining on the 2015 schedule.

Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s Silver Arrows teammate, and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari each has won three grand prixs in 2015. Vettel exited Texas 76 points (327-251) behind Hamilton with a maximum of 75 available for winning the next three races, while Rosberg sits four points behind the German in the battle to finish second.

Hamilton allowed that he truly is operating in a Senna-like “zone,” one that is as much spiritual as physical and mental. “Definitely. I think that enables me to drive better than ever, than I have ever driven,” said Hamilton, 30. “It’s difficult to describe, the power that you feel from within because it all comes from within in that belief. I’m very blessed to be able to do what I do and in the way I do it and to be here today, to have the experiences and opportunities that I’ve had in my life. Yeah, very, very, very blessed.”

With Vettel seated to his left, Hamilton downplayed the desire to match the latter’s four championships or to chase German hero Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven.

“As for me, it was always to get the three that Ayrton had,” Hamilton said. “Of course, he wasn’t from the same country as me but he was the guy that inspired me as a youngster. Now I’m like…I don’t know where it’s going next. There is no one else I look to, that I want to equal or emulate now. I feel like I’ve got the baton now for myself and Ayrton and I’m going to carry it as far as I can, as strong as I can and keep building and see where I take it.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton continued to praise COTA’s 3.427-mile/20-turn layout as a tremendous circuit; the announced crowd of 101,667 that showed Sunday under inclement conditions and the future of F1 in America. COTA officials announced a three-day attendance total of 224,011, despite a weekend plagued by torrential rain that wiped out Friday’s second free practice, Saturday’s second practice and limited qualifying to two of three rescheduled rounds Sunday morning. If ever the USGP here was primed to fall on its face in the mud, this was the weekend. But Sunday’s full grandstands and enthusiastic fanbase _ many flying the Union Jack in Hamilton’s honor _ dictate otherwise.

“I hope so,” Hamilton said. “I hope the more and more we come here, the more it excites people. It’s such an exciting sport and for some reason at this track we always have good races. For me, it was one of the most exciting races that I’ve had in quite a while. And yeah, while we only have one race here (USA), we’ve had an amazing turnout with lots of Americans, people from different parts of the world have come here to enjoy Austin to see the town _ great food, great ambience, great atmosphere. So hopefully every single person that comes here will infect someone else here, particularly in the States. Hopefully one-by-one, by word of mouth, it will catch on.”

Hamilton added the presence of a fulltime American driver would help, and Californian Alexander Rossi delivered a career-best, route-going/56-lap, 12th-place finish in his third start for Manor Marussia F1 Team. Rossi, 24, is the first American to compete at COTA and the first American to drive in F1 since Scott Speed in 2007.

Hamilton said he really did not know what effect North Carolina-based Haas F1 Team’s entry into the FIA Formula One World Championship will have next year, but he again lobbied for a greater American presence. “For some reason, whatever it is, Americans put on the greatest shows,” said Hamilton, a frequent visitor to the USA. “Whether it’s music, sports, games _ basketball, NFL _ they have the best games, the atmosphere, the way they put on the show is just outstanding and there’s something that Formula One can learn from that.”

Hamilton also politely took a shot at F1 Management boss Bernie Ecclestone and his fellow-dinosaurs by noting, “Maybe we need to hire some new people. I think lots of brainstorming and really just conversation with perhaps new people’s ideas. I’m assuming, because I don’t really know who makes the decisions, that it’s a group of people who have been there for some time. So always introducing new blood and new ideas and interacting with…I think they should really interact with people here in the States. So as I said, maybe we need to hire some new people. I speak to Bernie and he’s like, ‘Yeah, any ideas you have…’

“And it’s such a big country, I think we have to have more races here. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have at least two races here, it’s such a big place.”

Stats-wise, the win allowed Hamilton to join Sir Jack Stewart of Scotland (1969, ’71 and ’73) as only the second British subject to win three F1 titles.

Hamilton’s victory also was the 43rd of his career _ two more than Senna and one-up on Vettel, who scored his four World Championships with Infiniti Red Bull Racing from 2010-13. At one point during a lengthy presser, Hamilton joked, “I feel like I’m trying to compete with Sebastian when for all those years he was up here, Nico or whoever was up here with me, sitting here and again it was your day so we just sat there and enjoyed it. So I’m trying to exceed the length of time you (Vettel) were talking back then.”

To which Vettel deadpanned, “You’re still behind.”

“Yeah,” Hamilton said. “I think I’m still behind.”

FIA WORLD DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP 1950-2015

Year/Driver/Country/Manufacturer

1950 Giuseppe Farina (ITA) Alfa-Romeo

1951 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo

1952 Alberto Ascari (ITA) Scuderia Ferrari

1953 Alberto Ascari (ITA), Scuderia Ferrari

1954 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Mercedes-Maserati

1955 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Mercedes

1956 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG)Lancia-Ferrari

1957 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Maserati

1958 Mike Hawthorn (GBR) Scuderia Ferrari

1959 Jack Brabham (AUS) Cooper-Climax

1960 Jack Brabham (AUS) Cooper-Climax

1961 Phil Hull (USA) Scuderia Ferrari

1962 Graham Hill (GBR) BRM

1963 Jim Clark (GBR) Lotus-Climax

1964 John Surtees (GBR) Scuderia Ferrari

1965 Jim Clark (GBR) Lotus-Climax

1966 Jack Brabham (AUS) Brabham-Repco

1967 Dennis Hulme (NZL) Brabham-Repco

1968 Graham Hill (GBR) Lotus-Ford

1969 Jackie Stewart (GBR) Matra-Ford

1970 Jochen Rindt (AUT) Lotus-Ford

1971 Jackie Stewart (GBR) Tyrrell-Ford

1972 Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) Lotus-Ford

1973 Jackie Stewart (GBR) Tyrrell-Ford

1974 Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) McLaren-Ford

1975 Niki Lauda (AUT) Scuderia Ferrari

1976 James Hunt (GBR) McLaren-Ford

1977 Niki Lauda (AUT) Scuderia Ferrari

1978 Mario Andretti (USA) Lotus-Ford

1979 Jody Scheckter (RSA) Scuderia Ferrari

1980 Alan Jones (AUS) Williams-Ford

1981 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Brabham-Ford

1982 Keke Rosberg (FIN) Williams-Ford

1983 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Brabham-Ford

1984 Niki Lauda (AUT) McLaren-TAG-Porsche

1985 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren-TAG-Porsche

1986 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren-TAG-Porsche

1987 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Williams-Honda

1988 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren-Honda

1989 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren-Honda

1990 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren-Honda

1991 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren-Honda

1992 Nigel Mansell (GBR) Williams-Renault

1993 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren-Honda

1994 Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton-Ford

1995 Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton-Renault

1996 Damon Hill (GBR) Williams-Renault

1997 Jacques Villeneuve (CAN) Williams-Renault

1998 Mika Hakkinen (FIN) McLaren-Mercedes

1999 Mika Hakkinen (FIN) McLaren-Mercedes

2000 Michael Schumacher (GER) Scuderia Ferrari

2001 Michael Schumacher (GER) Scuderia Ferrari

2002 Michael Schumacher (GER) Scuderia Ferrari

2003 Michael Schumacher (GER) Scuderia Ferrari

2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Scuderia Ferrari

2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault

2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault

2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari

2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren-Mercedes

2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn GP

2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Infiniti Red Bull Racing

2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Infiniti Red Bull Racing

2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Infiniti Red Bull Racing

2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Infiniti Red Bull Racing

2014 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG Petronas

2015 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG Petronas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2015
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