Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he still can't quite believe that he has equalled the record of his hero as a three-time F1 champion.
Although he didn't mention Ayrton Senna by name as he collected the drivers' championship trophy at Friday's FIA prize-giving gala in Paris, the Briton conceded that, despite clinching the title back at the US Grand Prix, he is struggling to come to terms with achieving the hat-trick.
There has been some suggestion that Hamilton took his foot off the gas in the three races that followed the trip to Austin – something the Mercedes driver refutes despite chasing team-mate Nico Rosberg home in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi – but no-one can deny that he was the dominant force over the first three-quarters of the season, having already pocketed the pole position trophy and won the lion's share of races.
Clearly emotional on the radio after victory at the Circuit of the Americas clinched the crown – making him the first British driver to become a back-to-back champion – Hamilton conceded that he remains speechless when it comes to describing his achievement.
“It's pretty much impossible to put into words what it means to be a three-time world champion,” he said, “It's a dream, an incredible feeling and I'm very proud of my family for everything they did to get me here today. I remember how hard my dad and my mum worked to make sacrifices for me. It's been a long, long journey - I've been racing for 22 years – but, this year, winning the race in Austin and sealing the championship there was one of the most special races. There's a huge sense of pride in what I have achieved.”
The 10-6 victory record of the two Mercedes drivers was slightly skewed by Rosberg's end-of-season hat-trick, but gave a clear indication of the Three Pointed Star's dominance, which led to it picking up a second constructors' trophy on Friday night with a record points haul for the year.
Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel – the only other driver to stand on the top step as he claimed third in the overall standings – joined Hamilton in Paris, where the German national motorsport body received the Bernie Ecclestone Award on behalf of its drivers, who racked up more F1 points than any other competing nation over the year. The Mexican Grand Prix, which Rosberg won to begin his three-race unbeaten run, walked away with the award for best event.