Lewis Hamilton to fight off illness at Brazilian GP as he seeks to emulate idol Senna
Champion suffering from fever but still desperate to win at Interlagos
Lewis Hamilton intends to climb off his sick bed to realise a childhood dream with a first victory on the native soil of his hero Ayrton Senna in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.
The three-time drivers world champion delayed his arrival in Brazil by 24 hours on Wednesday on doctors' orders after falling ill, but his Mercedes team made clear he has every intention of racing for his first win in Brazil at the ninth attempt.
“It was a dream of mine to race in Sao Paulo when I was younger,” he said. “I always feel his [Senna] presence when I am there - it is a very special race for me.
“It's amazing to think that it took Ayrton eight attempts to win this race and it's one of the few that I haven't won yet myself so, if I can change that this weekend, it would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year.
“I will be going all out to make it happen.”
Hamilton was due to take part in a news conference on Wednesday, but had to cancel due to illness after being advised not to fly by doctors.
“He's arriving a day later than scheduled, as he was unwell,” said a Mercedes spokesman, who quashed local reports that the champion was not fit to race. “But he will be here tomorrow.”
Hamilton knows he faces a tough fight to end his winless run on the undulating Interlagos track where, in eight attempts, he has secured only two podium finishes, but where, in 2008, he claimed his maiden title with a dramatic last corner overtaking move that secured fifth place.
His Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg, who won last year, wants to add to his victory in Mexico with another win and a fifth straight pole position.
“I want to win again,” said Rosberg. “Last year was a good battle with Lewis, when I came out on top.
“I enjoyed standing on the top step after a hard-earned win, following in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won there and with the passionate Brazilian crowd cheering on - that was a great feeling,” he said.
Rosberg also wants to ensure he finishes second behind Hamilton in the drivers' title race by resisting the challenge of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, a two-time winner in Brazil.
Ferrari's strong season suffered a setback in Mexico where both cars failed to finish for the first time in 184 races just as Mercedes boss Niki Lauda heaped praise on the Italian team for their much improved competitiveness.
“This year to do better than Ferrari, we had to make a lot of progress,” he said. “Since they introduced the updated engine at Monza, I would say that they matched us in terms of power and efficiency.
“The 20 horsepower advantage we once had has gone. We are at the same level of power - we know that for certain from the statistics.”
With the championships settled and Ferrari keen to bounce back to form, Sunday's race promises to be a close and fiercely-fought affair. Sick or not, Hamilton will need to be at his best again.