LEWIS HAMILTON said winning this year’s F1 title for a record eighth time would be his greatest victory yet.
The Briton is locked in an intriguing battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is delicately prepared to head into the final two races of the season.
The championship lead has changed hands in the previous 20 races and Hamilton is now just eight points behind.
The 36-year-old could erase that this weekend in Saudi Arabia if he wins and sets the fastest lap.
That means he will be level with Verstappen to advance to the season finale in Abu Dhabi next week in a thrilling showdown for the F1 crown.
But sitting in the Rosewood Hotel in London, wearing a tight green shirt and black trousers, Hamilton looks and feels as cold as a cucumber.
He said: “I’m so excited. I feel different from what I felt in my first year.
“I remember my first title year and my second title, the thrill I had in Brazil in 2008, and then in Abu Dhabi, double points in 2014 and not sleeping.
“There’s another calm this year, I don’t know why, I guess because I’ve had those experiences in the past.
“Is this the best championship? If I get the job done, I think it will, yes. But other than that, no one has been able to fight for eighth place yet, other than Michael Schumcher. That’s it. a new location, uncharted territory.”
If he wins the title this season, Hamilton will overcome a 19-point deficit – his biggest comeback to a championship.
And he says his recent successes, especially his win at the Brazilian GP – where he was knocked out of qualifying and received a penalty – are reminiscent of his playing days. he.
He added: “This year has been amazing. The past few days I have been reviewing my kart races.
“I went to see my dad and my brother on Sunday and we had a roast dinner and my brother came and showed me a race in Buckmore Park – he knows all my races, he knows all my races. He’s probably my biggest fan, and he’s like ‘this is your best race’.
“Those are my favorite races when you have to come back from somewhere else.
“When I started racing at Rye House I always started last because the kart was bent, it wasn’t really great and I was trying to get through the field.
“This year has been great too. There was a period at the beginning of the year where we just won Bahrain and then we had a couple of good races before we really fell behind.
“They were leading by three or four tenths and it was like ‘shoot away, we have no developments coming’, so it was a real challenge and I loved it.
“Me and the team are closer than ever. Everyone raised their game.
“I’m proud of everything we’ve done. There was a time when we were 35 points behind in the Makers’ Championship and at that time and at the time it felt impossible. .
“But somehow we recovered and then you go to Brazil and when I got the message that I was disqualified, my heart sank.
“I was like ‘no matter what I’m good, I’ll never recover and I’ll lose at least, I can come back fourth or fifth from there’.
“But then we won the race.”
This is followed by high-speed street racing in Saudi Arabia, a new addition to the schedule with construction work still underway.
Hamilton has self-registered for doubles sessions on the team’s simulator at their Brackley HQ and has canceled private engagements to ensure he stays fit, focused and healthy.
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He said: “I’ve worked hard and this is the best I can give in a year in terms of training, the balance of time that I have.
“What I said yes, what I said no. On Sunday it was the British Fashion Awards and I had to be on a really nice table and I was like ‘I have to work out, I have to. stay focused, I can’t risk being unfocused’, so I sacrificed everything I could this year.
“I don’t think I’ve left anything unfinished so at this time of year there are no regrets.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/motorsport/4186631/lewis-hamilton-verstappen-record-f1-title/ Lewis Hamilton reckons conquering Max Verstappen and claiming a record eighth F1 title would be the greatest victory of his career