Lewis Hamilton says a win in Brazil would be a “salute” to Ayrton Senna as the newly-crowned triple world champion targets a first victory in his idol’s homeland.
Hamilton, who has already amassed an unassailable lead in the Formula 1 championship, has never won at the iconic Interlagos track in eight previous attempts.
He [Senna] was such a hero in Brazil and it’s humbling that I get such a warm reception thereLewis Hamilton
He finished second behind team-mate Nico Rosberg last year while he was vying for the lead with Nico Hulkenberg in his final race with McLaren in 2012 before a race-ending collision.
But Hamilton, 30, is hopeful of ending his winless streak at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
“This was the home race for Ayrton, so it was a dream of mine to race in Sao Paulo when I was younger and I always feel his presence when I’m there,” said Hamilton, who has spoken of “carrying the baton” for the Brazilian after surpassing his number of career wins and emulating him with a hat-trick of titles.
“He was such a huge hero in Brazil and it’s humbling that I always get such a warm response there. It’s amazing to think that it took Ayrton eight attempts to win this race and it’s one of the few I haven’t yet won myself.
“If I can change that this weekend it would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year, so I’ll be going all out to make that happen.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Rosberg claimed his first victory in almost five months at the Mexican Grand Prix earlier this month, but it was not without controversy.
Sceptics claimed Mercedes manufactured the win for Rosberg after the team issued an order for Hamilton to stop for tyres for a second time despite the Briton wanting to remain on the track. But for Rosberg, who is now 21 points clear of Sebastian Vettel in the race for second place, he wants to take his good from from Mexico, where he also sealed pole, to the penultimate grand prix of the campaign. “I’m really pumped to get to Sao Paulo and get back out on track after a great weekend in Mexico,” said Rosberg. “I have good memories from Brazil, too. I’ve usually been pretty quick there and last year was a good battle with Lewis, when I came out on top.
“Standing on the top step after a hard-earned win, following in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won there and with the passionate Brazilian crowd cheering on – that was a great feeling. I’d love to experience that again, so the aim is to put on another good show for the fans and to carry my form from Mexico into this race.
“It’s always a great feeling to head into a weekend on the back of a win, so I’m confident of a strong performance.”