Lewis Hamilton says that he still finds it hard to believe that his F1 record is coming close to comparing to that of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna.
Speaking ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, where the Brazilian signalled his intent with second on debut before stamping his authority with six wins in the following nine years, Hamilton admitted that it was a special feeling to have his achievements spoken of in the same breath as Senna.
“When I started watching Ayrton, he was the one that caught my eye and really brought me to the sport,” he recalled, “It's insane to think that, all those years back – and I remember exactly where it was that I started watching my first grands prix, with bacon sandwiches on the cream sofa at my dad's – who would have known, back then, that, as a family, we would be where we are today.”
Although last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix marked only the second time this season that Hamilton has failed to finish on top of the podium, the reigning world champion heads to Monaco with a 20-point lead over Mercedes team-mate in his quest to land a third crown, which would bring him level with Senna.
“It is far too early to talk about [equalling Senna's three titles], but winning the world championship [this year] is obviously the goal,” Hamilton noted, “I always said, from when I was very young, that I wanted to emulate Ayrton, so to even be in the position where I am close to achieving the same level of wins or world championships hasn't really sunk in.”
Although still 23 pole positions shy of Senna, Hamilton is only five wins adrift of the Brazilian's career total of 41 and, given the Silver Arrows' level of dominance this season, that figure could easily be surpassed by late summer. Senna racked up his tally in 162 grands prix, with Hamilton having taken 36 from 153. Having also taken second on his debut there, the Briton heads to Monaco looking for his second win in the Principality on Sunday.