Lewis Hamilton reacts to 'amazing' Damon Hill praise and aims for F1 perfection against Max Verstappen
Damon Hill called Lewis Hamilton a "phenomenon" and "one of the most talented people to ever walk the earth" over the Barcelona weekend; Hamilton described praise as "humbling" and "amazing" and explained hunt for perfection against Max Verstappen
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 10/05/21 11:27am
Lewis Hamilton has explained why it was an "amazing moment" to receive glowing praise from Damon Hill over the Spanish GP weekend and insists he needs to continue to perform at his very best in every race to hold off the challenge of Formula 1 rival Max Verstappen.
Hill, the 1996 world champion and Sky Sports F1 pundit, described Hamilton as "one of the most talented people to ever walk the earth" after his fellow Briton hit an incredible milestone of 100 pole positions on Saturday - and a day later Hamilton was, predictably, in sublime form again.
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Hamilton won an epic cat-and-mouse battle against Verstappen in the race, brilliantly chasing the Red Bull driver down to claim F1 win number 98, and open up a 14-point lead in his pursuit of an historic eighth title.
Afterwards, Hamilton was asked about Hill's Twitter post and admitted it was "definitely humbling" having admired his compatriot through his racing career.
"I saw that yesterday and I felt so much gratitude to Damon," said Hamilton. "Because I remember growing up watching Damon and having, as I do now, so much respect for him.
"I remember rooting for him as a Brit, wanting him to succeed even when he didn't have a great car or a good team.
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"So it's definitely humbling when you see people you've admired, you've watched and grown up taking inspiration from - having them say respectful things and positive things like that.
"That's an amazing moment when that happens."
Hamilton, amid a renewed battle from Red Bull and their star driver Verstappen, has been at his very best in 2021 so far and claimed his third win in four races on Sunday. He knows he needs to keep that form going.
"This is a period of time where I have to be at the best, weekend in weekend out," the 36-year-old added.
"Max is driving exceptionally well, as is Valtteri (Bottas). It's so close between all of us.
"It's going to take perfect delivery each weekend. I don't think anyone can do that, but I'll try to get as close as possible."
Button and Chandhok praise 'exceptional' Hamilton
Sky Sports F1's Jenson Button and Karun Chandhok were also full of praise for Hamilton in Barcelona.
"The last few years he probably hasn't had the competition we would have liked," said Button, Hamilton's former team-mate and the 2009 world champion.
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"But this year up against probably the most exciting young talent and, for me, the most naturally-gifted driver out there - and he's really taken it to him.
"The driver who's impressed me the most this year - it's not actually Max Verstappen. It's Lewis because of how he dealt with that pressure from Max."
Chandhok, meanwhile, said Hamilton had found an "eighth gear".
"In roughly equal machinery, the driver then makes that last bit of difference," he explained. "He has been exceptional this year.
"We have been massively excited to see Max and Red Bull in the fight, but Lewis is the guy that has won three out of four races.
"When you think he's won seven world championships, he's got money, he's got everything in life... and he's still able to find the motivation to find that eighth gear and keep going. It is super impressive to see."