Hamilton faces his fears at Interlagos
SAO PAULO, Brazil:
On its tarmac, notorious blind curves and an undulating track, and with unpredictable weather, Formula One Drivers' Cham-pionship leader, Lewis Hamilton, has felt an equal measure of joy and dejection.
Nestled in the midst of some of Sao Paulo's toughest neighbourhoods - or 'Favelas' as they are termed, Interlagos - the legendary home of Brazilian motorsports and one of Formula One's most colourful stops, holds a special test for the British driver.
A test and an opportunity, for a man that has spoken openly about his admiration of Brazilian Formula One fans and his special appreciation for one particular son of the soil.
As a boy, Hamilton studied and worshipped Sao Paulo native, Ayrton Senna - the three-time Formula One world champion, who died in 1994. This was Senna's domain, in many ways, it still is - they sing his name here. And as far as the 29-year-old Briton is concerned, there could be no greater homage than to himself win here - like his hero did.
"I've always said as a kid that I want to emulate Senna, win the races he won, win the championships like he did," said Hamilton.
Problem is, this track is perhaps his kryptonite.
The driver has taken just one podium spot here, way back in 2009 when he finished third. He has both won and lost the title at Interlagos.
In 2008, Hamilton famously snatched the title from another local, Felipe Massa, when he passed Timo Glock's Toyota in the rain on the last lap to finish in fifth place. Twelve months earlier, he had underlined a late season collapse with a miserable run.
Today, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, he faces this beautiful challenge, knowing too, that despite his dominance this season with 10 wins under his belt and a 24-point lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, he won't be able to wrap up the title here, but he may make it harder for himself to win it - even psychologically.
Ahead of today's race, there is still 75 points up for grabs, this, of course, due to the unpopular situation where double points are on offer at the finale in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight.
Hamilton knows that he must do everything to have a better drive here than he has had in the past.
"My record at Interlagos hasn't actually been the best so far in terms of results. I'm hoping this weekend will be the one to change that," said a relaxed Hamilton.
finding more time
The 29-year-old was cool enough in qualifying yesterday, just missing out on pole position.
"It was great fun. Nico did a great lap. I lost a bit of time in Turn 10 and perhaps a tiny bit in Turn One. But that's what qualifying should be about - just having to keep going out and finding more time," said Hamilton, shortly after qualifying runs yesterday.
Rosberg picked up yet another pole position, coming in 0.033 seconds faster than Hamilton, setting up another tense battle.
"It is a long race and it should be quite exciting. I'm here and I want to win. I hope we get to have a race," Hamilton added, referring to talks of possible showers during race time.
There are just two races to go before someone lifts the deep-barrelled Formula One trophy over their head; you can't help but think that it will be the Brit, if he manages to get the better of his nemesis - Interlagos.
Race time is 11 a.m. (Jamaica time).