Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of entering the pantheon of great Formula One drivers if he wins at the Mexico Grand Prix this weekend, and feels his success has only recently earned the respect of his peers.
The Brit also said that he hopes from now he will only be spoken of due to his success on the track and not his notoriety off it.
If Hamilton wins in Mexico, he will go level with Alain Prost in total race victories, standing at 51, with only Michael Schumacher having achieved more with 91.
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In his last race in Austin, Hamilton celebrated his 50th win in his 185th Grand Prix, which has given him an outstanding win percentage of over 27 percent.
Although he is chasing his fourth world title, which would surpass his hero Ayrton Senna's three, Hamilton feels as though only recently has he earned the respect of the veteran drivers.
Speaking in the run-up to this weekend's race in Mexico, he said: “I feel like there are a lot of elder drivers who don’t like to let go, as they once had records and I’ve sometimes overtaken them.
“Hopefully now, I’m on a respectable level with them. I’m a grown man and, with the results I have had, I’ve earned their respect.
“My goal is to win this championship. I’m just super-competitive. Everything I do, I want to win.”
The Brit is 26 points behind his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg going into the Mexico GP, and admitted his reputation for being a bad loser is somewhat justified.
“There’s a huge amount to learn from losing, but I love winning. That’s what I live for.
"The crazy thing is, people are constantly commenting on how I am after a bad race. They have no comprehension of how it is."
He added that he hopes further wins will only solidify his reputation amongst his peers.
"I’m a grown man and, with the results I have had, I’ve earned their respect. My goal is to win this championship. I’m just super-competitive. Everything I do, I want to win.”
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