Singapore Formula One Grand Prix 2015: Lewis Hamilton says equalling Ayrton Senna's victory record would be very emotional

Briton aiming to claim his 41st career victory on the streets of Singapore - and match his idols tally

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The Independent Online

If he can achieve another “perfect” weekend like the one he enjoyed at Monza a fortnight ago, Lewis Hamilton could continue his path towards a third World Championship by drawing equal with his idol Ayrton Senna’s tally of victories in Singapore this Sunday.

The Briton has made no secret of the fact that he would love to match the legendary Brazilian’s three crowns, and said that scoring a 41st grand prix win would be an emotional moment on his way to that goal.

“I always wanted to emulate Ayrton and I’m very close to the number of races in which he competed – just one away – and I’m one victory away from the number of races he won,” he said during a promotional function for sponsor Epson.

He admitted he had not previously considered how close his race tally is to his boyhood hero’s. “After the last race I was only notified how many races I had done, and to see that almost correlate with the career that Ayrton did, I couldn’t believe it. It feels pretty amazing.

“As a kid, I set my goal on something and achieved it. I think now I’m set on that goal, and very close. It may or may not happen this weekend, I still have a serious challenge ahead of me, but it feels great to be up there.”

Several times this year he has stressed records are of much less interest to him than world titles. “I’m here fighting for the World Championship, that’s my focus, so I won’t be focusing on what Senna achieved and what I achieved. I’m here simply to win the race, so there’s no more pressure than usual this weekend. But if I was to equal Ayrton’s number of wins, even this weekend, it would be very emotional.”

It will also be an emotional weekend for Alex Rossi, who finally makes his grand prix debut with the Manor team. He was due to do that in Russia last year but the race came immediately after Jules Bianchi’s ultimately fatal crash in Japan, so he was relieved when the beleaguered team elected to leave the Frenchman’s car in the garage.

The Californian, 23, who replaces Roberto Merhi for five of the remaining seven races, to become the first American to race in Formula One since Scott Speed in 2007, said it had been a last-minute thing. “The discussions started taking place shortly after Monza. Obviously, I’ve had quite a bit of history with this team, in 2014, so we’ve always had good communication over the beginning of this year. But I wasn’t expecting 2015 to be a year where I was racing an F1 car. It’s very surreal now that it’s about to happen.”

Rossi hopes that strong performances will convince Gene Haas he has the experience to merit a seat in the new Haas F1 American team, which joins the circus in 2016.