Lewis Hamilton insists campaign to promote equality means more to him than record-equalling seventh F1 title

LEWIS HAMILTON says his campaign to promote equality means more to him than his seventh world title.

The Brit can equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven championships this weekend in Turkey – providing he finishes ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton, 35, has been unstoppable during this Covid-hit season, winning nine of the 13 races.

While off track, he has promoted Black Lives Matter, highlighted inequality and environmental issues across the world.

He has used his platform as F1's most successful driver of all time to help raise awareness to his followers and says that is more special to him than another title.

He said: "The numbers and the figures and the titles and all that stuff, it perhaps appears to mean more from the outside.

"Watching the TV and watching Michael get the seventh and being like, 'wow, that's seven'.

"But when you're in it, it's different. We're going to continue to fight for more championships, we're going to continue to try and improve and continue to race and do what we love doing.

"What's important is that journey. This year has been combined with the fight for equality and learning what's happening around the world and being a little bit more aware of surroundings.

"Naturally, matching an icon like Michael, I'd be incredibly proud of that. But I think it's more the message that it sends to people.

"Not just kids but hopefully mostly kids because they're the future, that you have to dream bigger than you think and don't let anyone tell you you can't go for that."

Perhaps, given that the title takes second billing to his equality work, Hamilton says he is not thinking about matching Schumacher's total this weekend.

Instead he wants to take it all in his stride knowing that he has a comfortable 85 point margin over Bottas with four races to go this season.

He added: "I am just focused on trying to do a good job, just taking it one race at a time, trying to do the best we can as a team, not thinking about anything else.

"I have learned not to add pressure that's unnecessary. I have four races to battle for those points, so I don't put it all onto one weekend, one day.

"For me it is another race, I need to approach it exactly as I have in the past.

"Maybe then that's why sometimes it's a shock. All of a sudden it hits you because you have not thought about it much and you don't know what to say, because you never truly know whether it is going to happen.

"I am not focused on the 'what if?' I am focused on preparing myself the same as before to try to deliver the way I have all season."

Nonetheless it seems as formality, but it could have been a lot different had he not decided to join Mercedes in 2013 from McLaren.

Hamilton admits it took some convincing from Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda, who were both then working at Mercedes, when they first approached him about signing for the team.

He said: "I had first spoken to Niki. I was back home in Monaco and he's like 'you've got to come to the team'. And I wasn't convinced necessarily at the beginning.

"I think the convincing stage, which really made me look into it more, was when Ross came around my mum's house, and sat in the kitchen and we had tea.

"He showed me what the plan was for the team. That was the real, in-depth insight into what the team was planning and the changes that they were trying to do.

"So that was really the 'selling' point. With Niki we worked on the layout of the deal."

Once the title is wrapped up, either this weekend on the outskirts of Istanbul or in the next race in Bahrain, Hamilton will switch his attention to signing a new deal.

It is expected to be a three year deal worth around £40million a year – but as yet, nothing is signed.

He added: "I am very conscious of the idea I want to continue with Mercedes. I would love to help them on this quest of pushing for change.

"They are taking their cars green, electrifying more, I want to help them on that road, I want to help them pushing for diversity.

"There is a lot to discuss and a lot to go through but it is something we will do if not after the job is done at the end of the year.

"Nothing is set in stone – it is just about talking about it. I don't feel I'm finished, I don't feel moving forward… there are always areas to improve.

"I love racing and the challenge and I don't think that is going to change any time soon."

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