As he prepares to hit the track alongside Michael Schumacher for the first time during Formula 1 testing at Jerez this week, Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he hopes to emulate the German and become the most successful driver in F1 history.

Hamilton missed out on the title in his debut season by just one point to Kimi Raikkonen, despite leading the Finn by 17 points with two races remaining, and will go into 2008 amongst the favourites to secure the championship crown.

Eager to get over the disappointment of the final two races of the season - when an off in China and mechanical problems in Brazil ended his title hopes - Hamilton said he was fully focused on improving as a driver for 2008 and was focused on emulating the likes of seven-time champion Schumacher and his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna in the record books.

"I'm over that disappointment," he told the News of the World. "I've learnt from the mistakes and am fully focused on next season. I get better every year and I don't see why next season will be any different.

"I am going to be fitter, stronger and more experienced, ready to take that next step up and be champion. I have time on my side to win many titles. If I get the opportunity to break Michael's record then I will go for it.

"Michael was a phenomenal driver but for me, Ayrton Senna was the greatest ever. If I could get one world championship that would be great; if I could three, the same number as Ayrton did, that would be a dream. But I want to be the best driver there has ever been."

Hamilton added that he still couldn't believe how things have changed over the past twelve months, with him going from virtual unknown to global superstar over the course of the year.

"I'm still coming to terms with all that's happened this year," he said. "It's been a roller-coaster of emotions. I still see myself as a normal guy, but my focus has to be on my job in F1.

"I'm going to put in maximum effort over the winter to come back even better next season."

 

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