CLOSING IN ON SENNA'S RECORD: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton could equal F1 legend Ayrton Senna's record of 41 wins at the upcoming 2015 Singapore GP. Image: AP / Ronald Zak
Singapore - Lewis Hamilton has always regarded Ayrton Senna as his Formula 1 idol and the reigning world champion has a golden opportunity to match the late Brazilian's 41 race wins at this weekend's (September 19-20) Singapore GP.
Should the Briton drive his dominant Mercedes to victory in his 161st start on Sunday (September 20 2015), not only will he achieve the feat in exactly the same number of races, he will strengthen his bid for a Senna-equalling third world title.
Senna would have won more races
Hamilton said in a recent interview: "I watched Senna as a child and it would be an honour to match him. Now I'm just one win away but I hope to do even better.
"But we must not forget that if he were alive, he would have won a lot more," he added of the driver who tragically lost his life following a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Hamilton holds a 53-point lead over nearest challenger Nico Rosberg going into the 13th round of the season and it was at the 2014 Singapore GP where the Briton ripped the momentum away from his German team mate.
In 2014, the title race ended up going all the way to the final round in Abu Dhabi as Hamilton's reliability issues allowed Rosberg to remain within striking distance despite winning seven fewer GP's.
In the 2015 season, however, Hamilton has secured 11 pole positions in 12 rounds, finished every single race and claimed his seventh victory of the season in Monza last time out as a late engine failure left Rosberg pointless.
Hamilton knows what it takes to win in Singapore, having twice taken the chequered flag under the floodlights after 61 concentration-sapping laps around the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and the Briton is geared up for another tough race.
Hamilton said: "I've won there twice now, both times from pole, which shows you how important qualifying is too," he said. "It won't be easy to make it three... far from it. But I'm riding high right now and I'll be pushing for that hat-trick."
Rosberg not a fan of Singapore
Rosberg has admitted he is not a fan of the 23-turn circuit and after electrical issues forced an early retirement, the German admits he has nothing to lose this time around.
The German said: "I know I've got the pace to win there, so I'm hoping for a clean weekend and a chance to unleash the silver beast under the lights," he said.
A Hamilton win would also see him draw level with Sebastian Vettel with 41 career victories, although the German will be looking for his third win in his debut season for Ferrari at a circuit he also loves.
Vettel stormed to three straight wins in Singapore with Red Bull from 2011 and with his car the best of the rest this season, the four times champion sits 21 points behind Rosberg.
The tight track and regular safety car periods could work in his favour.