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Hamilton hails legacy of Senna

TRIBUTE: Hamilton, left, and Senna in 1990 (PA)

BRITISH RACER Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to the life and legacy of Ayrton Senna on the 20th anniversary of the Brazilian driver’s death.

Senna was only 34 when he crashed his Williams car at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, and Hamilton reflected on how the iconic F1 star influenced his own career.

Writing in his BBC Sport column, the 29-year-old Mercedes driver, who is favourite to win this year’s world championship, said: “Senna was one of the greatest winners this sport has ever had.

“But more than that, he was a genuine hero - an iconic character who inspired people from all over the world.

“He made a massive impression on me when I was growing up.”

Hamilton, who left McLaren for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season, explained how Senna impacted on his life while dreaming of becoming a F1 racer.

“My family realised I was interested in his driving so they encouraged me and bought me the books that told me more about Senna the man, and into my early teens I would go and get more from the library”, he said.

“I really came to understand his character and appreciate his amazing approach to racing. I knew that he started racing when he was a boy in Brazil, and that like me he'd been helped into karting by his dad. He moved to England when he was around 20 to pursue his dream, and I was impressed by that dedication.

“But it was the fact that Senna was just an out-and-out racer that was most important to me. I can really identify with that. It's exactly how I feel I am. That's why I feel I have had that connection with him since I was a kid.”

Comparing his own style to that of Senna, Hamilton added: “People say I have an aggressive style and sometimes I don't think that is all just me.

“I think it's partly because I watched Senna when I was young and I thought: ‘This is how I want to drive when I get the opportunity.’ And I went out there and tried it on the kart track. My whole approach to racing has developed from there.”

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