Lewis Hamilton reflects on 'crazy' landmark ahead of 200th F1 GP
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By Jonathan Green at Spa
Last Updated: 28/08/17 8:20am
Lewis Hamilton will make his 200th Grand Prix start in Sunday's Belgian GP, describing the milestone as "crazy" and a "privilege".
The Mercedes driver made his Formula 1 debut at the 2007 Australian GP with McLaren and has gone on to win 57 Grands Prix - placing him second on the all-time standings behind Michael Schumacher - and three world championships.
The Briton will also equal Schumacher's pole record of 68 should he claim pole at Spa on Saturday.
Hamilton currently trails Sebastian Vettel by 14 points in this year's championship and insists he feels as hungry as ever to achieve further success despite his longevity in the sport.
"You would think after 200 races that your passion or desire to win might fade but it's stronger than ever," Hamilton said.
"It's crazy to think that I'm reaching that milestone. I still feel young at heart so it's good. It's crazy to think that I have been in Formula 1 as long as I have. I feel very privileged.
"I remember my first Grand Prix and even before when I was dreaming of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver. It's crazy to think that I've now done 200. I should toast to the next 200.
"I'm really grateful for what I have. Of course, I think we all set out in life to achieve more, we always set the bar so high. But ultimately our target is not necessarily what we meet."
"There have been so many highlights. Still my first Grand Prix is such a huge highlight, my first GP win, the Silverstone win, the Monaco win. Winning the title in Brazil was a highlight, although actually it wasn't a great experience.
"I can't think of what's been my favourite race. It would probably be a wet race when you've really gone through a lot of difficulties because it is so difficult in the wet conditions."
Hamilton focused on improving consistency
As he seeks his fourth world title, Hamilton says his focus is on improving his consistency of performance over the remaining nine races of the season as he looks to overhaul the gap to Vettel.
Spa's layout should suit Mercedes' package and the Silver Arrows displayed an ominous pace in Friday practice. Hamilton was two tenths clear of the field, and nearly half-a-second ahead of Vettel, in Practice Two.
While Kimi Raikkonen topped the morning session for Ferrari, Hamilton was just five hundredths of a second off the pace and ahead of Vettel despite running the soft tyre compared to the ultra-soft Scuderia.
"I'm hoping we will be stronger than them - that has been our goal. We know what's happening with our car and know where it can be better but we don't want to big it up or downplay it. We'll let them do their talking outside while we're here to deliver some very special performances," Hamilton said.
"Every day I wake up and the goal is to lead the championship and stay in the lead. Coming into the second half of the season, unreliability is something that every single individual in the team is working hard to make sure it doesn't come into play for us.
"From my side, I want to be even more consistent than I have been already this season. I want to be performing at the top level.
"Ferrari's consistency is going to be important. It's clear that there are certain tracks where the characteristics of the circuit suits our car better or theirs works better. It's about trying to minimise the losses if there are to be losses in those scenarios. Everybody at the factory is working to make sure our car is great everywhere.
"It's important that we win every race and I want to be ahead of him in every race, that's my goal here. No games. I'm here to win and I want it just as much, if not more than, anybody else this year."