Austin: A relaxed Lewis Hamilton talked more of his love for pancakes and America yesterday than clinching a fifth world title in this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Mercedes driver, who needs to outscore rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by eight points to secure this year’s championship, evaded all invitations to talk of glory or his place in the pantheon of Formula One history.
“As a team, we don’t say how cool it would be to do it this weekend, or next,” he told reporters at a pre-event news conference.
“We don’t focus on ‘ifs’ – we focus on making sure we can deliver.
“There are 100 points still available so you can’t just be complacent and not in a championship as intense as this one – and it will be intense again. We expect Ferrari to punch back hard here this weekend so we can’t relax in any way.
“So we are aiming to raise the bar again. I am not thinking of how it would feel if we can do the job. I am just focusing on driving the best I have all year long. Nothing is given.”
Fresh from several days in New York, Hamilton – who has won five of the six races hosted by the Circuit of the Americas at Austin – made clear he felt at home in Texas and the United States.
“I don’t know if I love American more than anyone else does,” he said.
“I think everyone likes it here. I grew up watching movies from the States, as a kid, and then when I was 17 I went to New York for the first time and I loved it.
“And since then, more and more, I enjoy it. Everything here is generally bigger and, in most cases, better! The cities, the people, the energy and the music, which is the centre of the universe here.
“And the food is great too – the pancakes!”
Prompted by a series of questions from American reporters, Hamilton talked freely of his love of the Austin circuit and the food he had enjoyed.
“Most modern tracks are not that good,” he said. “They don’t make them like they did in the olden days! But this is one that is. It’s got great character.
“Right from day one, a big crowd came and they were mostly new to the sport so it was great and every year it has been growing.
“But it is a massive challenge and, here, you can race. You can follow here and you can race. You can have real races.”
Hamilton revealed that he had spent some of his early life living on an American air base in Britain when his mother “”was dating this guy... and I had the greatest chicken wings!”
He added that he was now on a “plant-based diet – so I don’t know how that’s going to go here!”
Hamilton has a 67 points lead ahead of Vettel with four races remaining.
n Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso heaped praise on Hamilton and omitted Vettel when he was asked to name his five greatest Formula One drivers of all time.
“It is difficult to compare those different times and different championships, but Lewis matching (Juan-Manuel) Fangio with five championships will be a great achievement,” said Alonso.
The Spaniard went on to say his top five would include seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, five-time champion Fangio, three-time champion Ayrton Senna, four-time champion Alain Prost and Hamilton.