Hamilton: ‘Crazy to be compared to the godfather, Fangio’

by Tom Leach

Lewis Hamilton says it feels ‘crazy’ being so close to equalling the ‘godfather of Motorsport’, Juan Manual Fangio‘s number of Formula One world titles, but is happy that his multiple championships were won in the modern era.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver will equal the Argentine’s five world championships on Sunday should he outscore his Scuderia Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by nine points.

Hamilton has always been successful at the Circuit of the Americas, winning five of the six races held at the venue and securing his 2015 championship there with a victory.

The Brit is already second on the all-time list of Grand Prix winners and equalling Fangio’s five world championships will move him joint second on that list too, behind only Michael Schumacher on both.

“I’m so grateful to be part of this era,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s 2018 United States Grand Prix.

“Fangio is like the godfather of drivers for us. He is one of the greats from the beginning and will always be admired in the sport. It is crazy to think that I’m embarking on a similar number of championships that he had.

“I have driven some cars from that era. Stirling Moss’ car I’ve had a go in, some of the Silver Arrows they had, around the old Monza circuit, for example, with Sir Stirling, which is pretty intense.

“It’s always really strange to hear the drivers’ mental philosophy back then.

“Sir Stirling would say you’d want to fall out if the car is going to crash. They would hope that they’d get thrown out the car.

“It’s a much more confined space for us. It’s all about being stuck in and being safe.

“I don’t know if the 1950s was a particularly good time, wasn’t a great time for black people either, so probably wouldn’t have been racing back then, but I’m grateful to be in this era and with the technology that we have and seeing the cars advance.”

Sunday could prove a record breaking day in Formula One’s history, as Mercedes look to secure their fifth drivers title in a row, equalling Ferrari’s record five consecutive years of dominance at the start of the century.

Hamilton wins in Austin, 2016. Credit: Daimler Media

Despite the driver’s championship looking likely to be sewn up sooner rather the later, the constructor’s standing could still go the distance.

Mercedes currently have a 78-point lead with 172 left to play for, and Hamilton is expecting his scarlet rivals the bounce back for the final four races.

“Again, really as a team, none of us are saying how cool it would be if it happened this weekend or the next, we’re not focusing on ifs,” said Hamilton.

“We’re focusing on making sure that we deliver. There’s still 100 points available.

“We can just never be complacent in life, and in a Championship as intense as this. We expect Ferrari to punch back hard here this weekend, so we can’t be relaxed in any way, shape or form.

“We’ve got to make sure we come here and raise the bar again. So, I’m definitely not thinking this weekend, how’s it going to feel if we do the job. Because I’ve got to do the job and that just adds more pressure and you just don’t need more pressure.

“So, focusing on making sure that I drive the best that I’ve driven all year long and we get the car where we need to get it.

“It’s going to be wet, I think, all day tomorrow, as far as I’ve heard, and potentially on Saturday, so it’s going to be a tricky weekend. So, nothing is a given.”

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