Hamilton cheerful but realistic ahead of Texan test
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Austin (AFP) – Lewis Hamilton adopted a cheerful, but realistic stance on Thursday after arriving in Texas ahead of this weekend's United States Grand Prix.
It is a race he badly needs to win to boost his hopes of landing an unprecedented eighth world title, a prospect he conceded as being very difficult to achieve.
The Mercedes driver, who is seeking a record-increasing sixth win at the Circuit of the Americas to overhaul Dutch rival Max Verstappen's six-point lead with six races to go, said he was taking the title run-in one race at a time.
"It's important to win every race somehow, you know, maximising our points – that's our goal over these next six races – and it's going to be incredibly difficult," he said.
"And there will be moments where we can perhaps edge them (Red Bull) out and I don't like to assume that Mexico is not going to be strong, but they are usually very strong in Mexico.
"So, I think it's going to be close. A lot can happen in these six races and so I think we just take it one race at a time and then give it everything we’ve got."
Hamilton and Mercedes have a dominant record in Texas, the champion having won five times since the inaugural race in 2012 and taken seven podiums in eight contests.
He added he senses the race had grown in status and size in recent years as F1 established itself in America as a major sport, partly due to the success of the Netflix series 'Drive to Survive'.
"I think we already knew from the beginning that there was huge potential here," he said.
"My first race in the US was 2007, but already I'd been to a NASCAR race, been to an NFL game and an NBA game. I've seen how it is – they're crazy about sports over here.
"And there's never enough sports. There's always more action and the progress I’ve seen over the years has been huge.
"Of course, over the last couple of years, it's been the steepest rise -- more and more people talking about it and more and more people engaging.
"The amount of emails and messages I get from people who I've known for years in the States, but who never knew what I was doing... Now they're hooked so I think a lot of them are coming this weekend."
Asked about his relationship with title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Hamilton told reporters it had not changed since last year despite the intensity of their battle for the championship and two crashes.
"There's not really a huge amount to say," he said.
"We have limited communication.
"Some of the drivers hang out more than others," he added.
"I wouldn't say I particularly closely hang out with anybody here so like last year we would just see each other at the track and say 'hi'.
"We'll do the same this year. It's no different this year for me personally."
Verstappen revealed earlier Thursday that he was this year refusing to take part in the 2021 edition of the Netflix series. He said he had not enjoyed the way in which he had been represented in previous series and suggested that some rivalries had been faked.
The series has been credited with doubling F1's viewing figures, according to the United States' F1 rights-holder ESPN.
"It's amazing to be back here,” said Hamilton.
"It's a place of great, great memories for me. It's such a huge country and having just one race here for sure isn't enough."
© 2021 AFP