US GP: Lewis Hamilton dreams of joining Juan Manuel Fangio as F1 great
Last Updated: 04/12/18 4:53pm
Lewis Hamilton has vowed not to ease off in his quest for a fifth championship - a feat which would see him equal Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time world champion.
Victory for Hamilton this weekend in the US GP would result in the Mercedes driver being crowned this year's champion if nearest rival Sebastian Vettel finishes third or lower.
It's a feat that only two drivers in history have previously achieved - Fangio and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
"Fangio is the Godfather of the sport for us," said Hamilton. "He's one of the greats from the beginning. It's crazy for me to think that l am embarking on a similar number of championships that he had."
For now, though, Hamilton's targets are more grounded. 'One race at a time' has been his mantra since the summer break and after reeling off four consecutive victories to streak clear in the standings his approach, understandably, isn't going to change even with the title finishing line in sight.
"It just feels like another race weekend we have, and we want to win, so it's a simple goal for us, we just arrive to try and do the same thing," Hamilton said.
"As a team we are focused on making sure we deliver. We can't be complacent, we can't be relaxed. We expect Ferrari to punch back hard this weekend. We have to raise the bar again. It's going to be wet this weekend, so it's going to be tricky. Nothing is a given."
Hamilton has arrived in Texas in a confident and assured mood. If he is feeling any nerves, he isn't showing them.
"I feel more relaxed than l have ever felt. I know what l need to focus on. I'm really to eager to enjoy it and optimise my time in the car.
"I feel very chilled. Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet…"
Asked to explain his astonishing run of form since the summer break, Hamilton responded: "I notice I improve throughout the year. As a team we've done a better job in every area while the other side perhaps haven't done such a good job in the second phase of the season."
Hamilton speaks up for Vettel
Hamilton also expanded on why he issued a social media post following the Japanese GP offering support to Vettel and urging the media to show more 'respect' to his Ferrari rival.
"I think if I was in the same position they would do the same thing," said Hamilton. "As drivers, we are all members of the GPDA and I think we all need to stick together and I think the respect that we have for one other is the best than it has been for many years, at least in the years that I've been in Formula 1.
"Ultimately as a four-time world champion, it is the most intense year that we've had. Every hiccup is magnified, as it is with any sport at the top, but there have been several times where I've been in the firing range and Seb has always been really respectful in supporting me so I thought it was only just to do the same."