This season looks almost certain to go down as the year that Lewis Hamilton either matched or surpassed a number of racing legend Michael Schumacher’s longstanding records.
But ahead of today’s Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul, which could see Hamilton draw equal with Schumacher’s seven World Drivers’ Championships, Hamilton said he hoped the achievement would help inspire the younger generation to “dream big”.
Hamilton will claim his seventh drivers’ title if he leaves Istanbul Park tonight more than 78 points ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas – with the current gap between the two drivers standing at 85.
When asked what it would mean for him to equal Schumi’s championship record – with Hamilton having surpassed the German’s win record with his 92nd triumph at the Portuguese Grand Prix last month – Hamilton was more keen to talk about the significance of a driver from the same background as him becoming the most successful figure in the sport’s history.
“That’s a question I get asked all the time,” said Hamilton of the chance to match Schumacher’s record.
“Naturally, I think the numbers and the figures and the titles and all that stuff – it perhaps appears to mean more from the outside. I remember watching the TV and watching Michael get the seventh [title] and being like: ‘Wow!’ But when you’re in it, it’s different.
“Naturally, matching an icon like Michael, I’d be incredibly proud of that, but I think it’s more the message that it sends, hopefully, to people – not just to kids, but hopefully mostly kids because they’re the future – that you have to dream bigger than you think you can dream, and don’t let anyone tell you can’t go for that.”
Hamilton had hinted at the previous race in Imola, Italy, earlier this month that his future with the Mercedes team was far from certain beyond the end of this year.
But speaking in Istanbul, he appeared to suggest that the partnership was set to continue into next year, while praising the work that both the team and the sport had done regarding equality this year.
“We’re going to continue to fight for more championships,” said Hamilton.
“We’re going to continue to try to improve and continue to race and do what we do, and what we love doing. But I think what’s important is that the journey this year has been combined with the fight for equality, and a real growing process this year of learning what’s happening around the world and being a little bit more aware of our surroundings and starting to see progress with that.”
Asked, meanwhile, whether he’d changed his preparations for today’s race in Turkey given what’s at stake, Hamilton replied: “I’m not thinking of anything other than [taking it] one race at a time, just trying to do the best we can as a team and seeing if there are any areas we can improve on from the last race.
“You never truly know whether it’s going to happen,” he added.
“I’m not focused on the ‘what ifs’ – I’m focused on preparing myself the same as I’ve done before, to try to deliver the way I have been doing all this season.”– Formula1.com