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Hamilton 'feels Senna connection'

Lewis Hamilton and Ayrton Senna
Hamilton has talked in depth of his admiration for Senna

Lewis Hamilton believes he is similar to Ayrton Senna and has revealed that he has based his approach to his career on the Brazilian three-time champion.

Hamilton, who can win the title at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, says he has admired Senna since childhood.

"I've always felt I had a connection with him, that we're somehow similar," he told Motor Sport magazine.

"I do crazy things that others wouldn't do and I feel like I have an edge, too. I feel I share something with him."

The 23-year-old, who is seven points clear of Ferrari's Felipe Massa heading into the race at Interlagos, wears a yellow helmet because of his admiration for Senna, who was killed in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

But he said he felt his links with Senna - who was born in Sao Paulo, the city that hosts this weekend's race - go far deeper than that.

"I seem to be able to draw a lot from how he came across, in interviews and so on.

If Massa wins in Brazil, Hamilton must finish at least fifth to be champion
If Massa is second, Hamilton must finish at least seventh
If Massa is third or lower, Hamilton is champion regardless of his result in Brazil

"He was such a fighter, that was the thing - I don't think he was ever one to drive half-heartedly.

"He was always looking for perfection and, yeah, he was a warrior - and that was what I loved about him."

In the interview, Hamilton talks at length about how closely he has modelled his career on Senna.

Hamilton, now 23, was nine when Senna was killed.

"The year before, I'd won the British [karting] championship, and got the chance to meet him. I'll never forget that," he said.

"As a kid, I was drawn to Senna because, for one thing, his driving style seemed to be different from anyone else's.

"And he seemed to be a daredevil - well, not a daredevil exactly, but he always went out of his way to… make sure he was at the front.

"Compared with all the others, he appeared never to be afraid - he seemed to me to have that little bit of an edge."

Intimidation is a sign of weakness in the mind - I don't do it because I don't feel I have that weakness

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton has recently come in for some criticism for driving over-aggressively - just as Senna did in his career.

But he insists that he does not believe in intimidating his rivals.

"You do get quite a lot of people who do that, you know - drivers who try to intimidate other drivers," Hamilton said.

"I could do it, too, but I just don't see the sense in it, personally.

"When people try and intimidate me, I laugh.

"The way I look at it, if they're doing that, it means they're worried - they feel they have to do something to distract me, or put me off, or try and knock my confidence.

"Personally I think that's a sign of weakness - weakness in the mind - and if you let it upset you, they're going to get the upper hand on you. I don't do that sort of thing, because I don't feel I have that weakness.

"The thing is, I think there's a subtle way you can do it. You can do it stupidly, and then there's a 50:50 chance of both of you crashing.


"But there's a subtler way of doing these things - I mean, when I got here, I wanted to assert myself in certain ways: one, to prove you can overtake in F1, and two, to show that I don't care who you are - whether you're Kimi Raikkonen or whomever - I'll go up the inside of you.

"It was important to get across that in a situation where most people would back out of it, I won't. And I showed that in my first year."

Despite his reverence for Senna, though, Hamilton recoiled from equating his ability with the Brazilian's.

"By no means have I ever suggested that I'm better than Ayrton - for me he's the king, and always will be," Hamilton said.

"If I could ever get to a point of being anywhere near as good as he was, I'd feel great."

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Interlagos, Brazil
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Mark Webber column
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The man Hamilton must beat
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