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Senna vs Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton stared at the yellow helmet like a child who had just opened his dream present on Christmas morning. It was a gift from the family of Ayrton Senna, to mark the Mercedes driver equalling his childhood idol’s record of 65 poles.

Holding it in his hands, Lewis said he was “shaking, speechless”. He was driven back to the paddock from Turn 2 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where the presentation had been made, and sat on the open window of a car, cradling it. Now, in the official news conference, he could barely take his eyes off it. “For the Senna family to send me this,” he said, “this is the most special thing I have, above and beyond all my trophies and everything.”

Earlier that week, a set of Canadian stamps was unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s grand prix. Lewis was among the drivers pictured on them, along with Senna, Gilles Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Jackie Stewart. Lewis regularly talks about the “honour” he feels in being considered among “those great drivers, those previous legends”. It’s not a humblebrag. He means it. But he is going to have to get used to it.

At the next race in Baku, Lewis surpassed Senna’s record by setting his 66th pole position, just two shy of Michael Schumacher’s record of 68. With 56 race victories under his belt, Hamilton has already overtaken Alain Prost to claim second place in the list of winning drivers – although he still has some way to go to match Schumacher’s record of 91 grand prix wins.

WORDS Andrew Benson

 

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