Lewis Hamilton: This would be my greatest title win - I have made every sacrifice I could this year

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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
Lewis Hamilton: This would be my greatest title win - I have made every sacrifice I could this year - AFP
Lewis Hamilton: This would be my greatest title win - I have made every sacrifice I could this year - AFP

Lewis Hamilton said he had left nothing to chance and would have "no regrets" as he bids to complete an extraordinary comeback and claim what would be, in his view, his "greatest" world title a week on Sunday.

Mercedes' seven-time world champion trailed Red Bull's Max Verstappen by 21 points as recently as Brazil last month.

But the 36-year-old has battled back to win successive races, slashing the gap to Verstappen to just eight points with only the double-header in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to come over the next two weekends.

Hamilton said if he could complete the comeback to claim what would be a record eighth world title, lifting him one clear of Michael Schumacher, he would consider it his greatest achievement.

"If I get the job done, I think it will [be my greatest championship], yeah," Hamilton said. "But also, no-one has ever been able to fight for an eighth, aside from Michael. It is a new position, uncharted territory..."

Hamilton, who confessed he was not a huge fan of race simulators, said he had spent an unprecedented 11 hours on the one at Mercedes' factory in Brackley over the course of two days last week and early this week, as he bids to get to grips with the brand new, purpose-built street circuit in Jeddah.

With the track still receiving its final touches, all drivers have had to get used to the layout virtually. "I spent probably seven hours in there on Wednesday [last week] and then yesterday probably about four hours..." Hamilton said.

"I don't ever do two sessions before a race. But I rocked up and saw Anthony [Davidson, Mercedes simulator driver] and got some stuff done. Bono [race engineer Pete Bonnington] is on his way and I will be on my way tomorrow."

The high-speed circuit is expected to suit Mercedes, with much of the lap spent at full throttle. Red Bull say they are hopeful they have successfully neutralised Mercedes' straightline speed advantage by getting the FIA to introduce new load tests on the cars' rear wing. But Hamilton's team principal Toto Wolff almost taunted his rivals following the last race in Qatar, saying the team would be getting their "spicy engine" out in Jeddah again, having rested it in Doha.

Hamilton laughed at that comment, adding that he thought Wolff was just "teasing" his opposite number at Red Bull, Christian Horner, with whom the Austrian has engaged in a running battle this season.

He insisted it was too early to say who the circuit would suit best. "I have no idea," he said. "I really don't because on the [simulator] we have a model and we know we have long straights but we don't know how bumpy it will be, we don't know how big the kerbs are going to be, we don't know if you can use kerbs. It could be a big difference if the set up is right or wrong and we won't know until we are on the ground."

Hamilton did, however, take a swipe at Red Bull for questioning the legality of their car after his victory in Brazil. In an interview with Telegraph Sport on Wednesday, Horner again repeated his claim that Mercedes were running an illegal rear wing at Interlagos. Hamilton described such claims as below the belt.

'At this point of the year there are no regrets'

"We all have egos and that's what controls our emotions and it is egos fighting each other," he said. "There is defence, there is respect. But what is important... I did see someone say something about cheating and that's the worst claim to make.

"I called [Mercedes senior engineers] James Allison and Mike Elliott and said 'I really want to know about these things' and they took me through details of where we are.

"We have done all these tests and this is where it is. But I don't like it when people put that out there. I don't think we have exploited any loophole.

They [Red Bull] did at the start of the year with their wing and then they changed that rule and now it is much stricter and the wing can't do anything."

Asked whether it in any way tarnished the title fight, Hamilton replied: "It is not tarnished, it [alleging cheating] is just the wrong thing to do."

Hamilton said it had given him extra motivation to finish the job and that he had had his "blinkers on" in recent weeks, citing as an example that he had turned down a night at the British Fashion Awards recently as he did not want to be tired.

"I was supposed to be on a really nice table," he said. "And I was like 'I have got to be up training, I have got to be focused, I cannot risk getting Covid'. I have made every sacrifice I could this year.

"I don't think I have left anything undone so at this point of the year, there are no regrets."

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