Lewis Hamilton believes a record eighth Formula One title would be the best of his career.
The Mercedes driver heads into this weekend’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix just eight points behind championship leader Max Verstappen with a maximum of 52 points up for grabs.
The final race of the season comes next week in Abu Dhabi and if Hamilton can fight back and claim the title, he insists it will be an unrivalled feeling.
Lewis Hamilton will once again wear a rainbow helmet in support of the LGBTQ+ community
The seven-time world champion believes drivers have an obligation to try and deliver change
‘It would be for sure,’ he replied when asked if moving clear of Michael Schumacher with an eight championship would make this one the best title yet.
‘It is something no-one has ever done before, the toughest battle the sport has seen in a long, long time and the most challenging, plus we are in a pandemic and all the stuff we have been faced with.’
Hamilton will wear a helmet sporting rainbow and coloured chevrons in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia, as he did in Qatar where same-sex relationships are also illegal.
‘As I said at the last race, I felt the sport and we (the drivers) are duty-bound to ensure we try and raise awareness for certain issues, especially human rights in the countries we are going to,’ he said.
The British star donned the helmet in Qatar having been critical of their attitudes to LGBTQ+
Hamilton paid tribute to Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in August after he wore a shirt reading ‘same love’ in support of the LGBTQ+ community
‘With the utmost respect for everyone that is here, I have had a warm respect from everyone here on the ground.
‘I can’t pretend to ever be the most knowledgeable or have the deepest understanding of anyone who has grown up in the community here.
‘Do I feel comfortable here? I couldn’t say I do, but it isn’t my choice to be here, the sport has taken the choice to be here and whether it is right or wrong, while we are here I think it is important to raise awareness.
‘You saw my helmet in the last race and I will wear it again here and in the next race. If anyone wants to take time to read what the law is for the LGBT+ community, it is pretty terrifying.’
Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen said he is ‘being neutral’ despite the potential of winning his first ever drivers’ championship title if results go his way at the Jeddah street circuit
2021 DRIVER STANDINGS
1. Max Verstappen – 351.5 points
2. Lewis Hamilton – 343.5 points
3. Valtteri Bottas – 203 points
4. Sergio Perez – 190 points
5. Lando Norris – 153 points
6. Charles Leclerc – 152 points
7. Carlos Sainz – 145.5 points
8. Daniel Ricciardo – 105 points
9. Pierre Gasly – 92 points
10. Fernando Alonso – 77 points
11. Esteban Ocon – 60 points
12. Sebastian Vettel – 43 points
13. Lance Stroll – 34 points
14. Yuki Tsunoda – 20 points
15. George Russell – 16 points
16. Kimi Raikkonen – 10 points
17. Nicolas Latifi – 7 points
18. Antonio Giovinazzi – 1 point
19. Mick Schumacher – 0 points
20. Nikita Mazepin – 0 points
Verstappen, meanwhile, insists it is business as usual for him despite the fact the Red Bull driver could claim a maiden F1 title if the result goes his way at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Asked how he will approach the weekend, the Dutchman replied: ‘Like I have the whole season, there is no change in that. I just focus on the weekend to try and be as competitive as I can be.
‘I am being very neutral, not reading positive or negative things and be busy with other things in life.
‘I come to the weekend and focus on F1 but I am also busy with other stuff and I think that helps a lot.’