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2014-04-23 10:06

FREE PLANE RIDE: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (above) scored an executive-style plane ride home with former F1 legend Niki Lauda. Image: AFP/WANG ZHAO

SHANGHAI, China - Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda gave F1 driver Lewis Hamilton a "money can't buy" reward for securing his first F1 hat trick - a ride on Lauda's private jet.

Lauda said: "I told him 'If you win, I'll fly you back' (to Europe)."

Lauda, not only an F1 legend but also a world-famous pilot and airline owner, was true to his word after the Chinese GP as the two returned from Shanghai aboard the great Austrian's Bombardier Global 5000.

DROP THE 'BAGGAGE'

Hamilton's third win of the 2014 season also moved him equal to Lauda's career tally of 25 GP victories.

Lauda revealed in Shanghai that, in 2013, he had advised the now on-form Briton to drop his travelling "baggage" of dogs and rap stars. Indeed, Hamilton is well on track for his second F1 championship with a permanent travelling entourage of only one - his trainer.

Hamilton said: "This year I'm just able to arrive and drive with no other worries. It's the combination of lots of things. It's where I am in my life, family, girlfriend, all things: where I live, having the right people in place, management, being in the right team."

His team mate Nico Rosberg, however, is leading the F1 championship by four points, which Hamilton admits will be keeping Rosberg's hopes afloat for now. Hamilton said: "In this racing business it's all psychological. Nico's very, very fast but I'm grateful I've been able to put in some really good performances but I owe it to the team.  It's incredible what's been done."

Beyond Hamilton v. Rosberg, Mercedes appears to be on a stroll to the 2014 title, notwithstanding the efforts of improving rivals such as Red Bull and Ferrari.

Lauda again: "Everything is fine, but there are so many races left. We'll see who makes the most progress, who is faster and who wins in Barcelona. It will be important to see how the rest of the season goes. If you're on top in Barcelona, everything will be a little easier."
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