Newly-crowned five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has targeted at least getting “close” to Michael Schumacher’s all-time records over the remainder of his career.
Hamilton moved level with Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles with his latest championship victory last Sunday in Mexico, which means only seven-time champion Schumacher stands ahead of him in the all-time list.
With 71 wins and 132 podiums to his name, Hamilton is zeroing in on the German’s win (91) and podium (155) records, having long surpassed Schumacher’s pole record.
Hamilton, 33, has at least two more seasons in F1 after renewing his Mercedes deal to the end of the 2020 season.
“I was just really not trying to take anything for granted,” said Hamilton.
“The way I’ve always approached it is I’ve just been really thankful for the ones I have.
“I’m very, very fortunate to be up here now, obviously with more than most people have, and I don’t take that for granted.
“Whether or not I’m going to have the chance to win more, who knows? I’m going to give it everything to do so.
“The 91 wins that he [Schumacher] has, for example, that’s a lot of wins.
“There’s still a long way to go but I’m here for a few more years, so I’m hoping that I can at least get close.”
Hamilton said Schumacher was a “genius” to implement himself into Ferrari the way he did in the mid-’90s and set up a streak of five straight titles from 2000-2004.
Had his team-mate Nico Rosberg not won the 2016 crown, Hamilton would be celebrating the same run with Mercedes that Schumacher had with Ferrari, while his shock, narrow defeat as a rookie in 2007 is another title near-miss.
Hamilton said he could “never, ever personally classify myself as the best” but was honoured to be in the company of Schumacher and Fangio as only the third driver to reach five titles.
“Michael’s still quite far ahead in race wins so you can have to say he is still the GOAT [greatest of all time],” said Hamilton.
“Fangio, I think, is the godfather and always will be, from a driver’s perspective.
“To do what he did at that time, when everything was so dangerous, my respect is so high for him.
“I feel very honoured to have my name alongside his. If I stopped today, the Hamilton name will always be there.
“I feel like I’m still driving with that fierce fire that I had when I was eight years old, which I love.”