Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of achieving a feat only two other men in history have done before, and he says he is not thinking about it.
The Englishman will clinch a historic fifth world title if he finishes at least seventh place in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, matching the great Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and only two behind all-time record holder Michael Schumacher.
And if the Mercedes driver’s only title rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, does not win the race, it does not matter what Hamilton does, he will be champion regardless.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen start in pole position and second place respectively while Hamilton starts third on the grid, with Vettel alongside him in fourth.
But Hamilton who could have won the title last weekend at the US Grand Prix says the idea of celebrating his title in front of 135,000 wildly enthusiastic fans, in the converted baseball arena that makes up the last section of the lap and hosts the podium ceremony, is not on his mind.
“It is really strange, but just like the last race, there is a very weird feeling. I’m not thinking about it. I’m not trying not to think about it,” he said.
“I want to win the race. I’m just on winning races. That’s my mindset. I don’t think: ‘If this happens it would be great.’ I think about doing my hard work tonight and making sure I study tomorrow and making sure I deliver. That’s all I think about.”
For one thing, the Red Bulls have been looking utterly dominant all weekend, so winning the race will not be easy. On the other hand, Hamilton only has to cast his mind back to this race last year for evidence of what can go wrong.
Where he started third then, too, behind Vettel and Verstappen. But after the Red Bull driver had passed Vettel into the first part of the right-left-right combination of corners that starts the lap, Vettel then hit Hamilton at the third.
Ferrari front wing to Mercedes rear tyre was all it took to puncture Hamilton’s right rear, and he was forced to crawl back to the pits and rejoin a long way behind the field. He could only make the ninth position.
There is inevitably a possibility that sort of thing could happen again, and Hamilton is well aware of it.
“You saw what happened last year with the red car behind,” he said, a reference to Vettel, who has been making a bit of a habit of colliding with other cars and spinning this year – he has done it three times in the last five races, compromising his title chances as a result.
But Hamilton said: “I don’t ever let worry come into my circle. I don’t worry. I will have fun tomorrow. What will be will be.
“I have professional drivers ahead, obviously one with less experience but still quick, and I will gauge it as I get to the corner and then it is a long race.
“The goal is always just to go the distance. Last year really sucked being that far back. So I hope I am in the mix.”
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