Lewis Hamilton is not getting caught up in the excitement of Formula One’s 1,000th race as he insisted in China: “I’m here to do one job, and that’s to win.”
The scene was being set for the sport’s landmark race on Thursday, with wall-to-wall branding of the number 1,000, while cars of yesteryear were rolled into the Shanghai paddock.
But Hamilton, who will start the 232nd race of his career as he bids for a sixth world championship, said: “I’m not one for birthdays, anniversaries, and special days.
“It’s no different to any race weekend for me. I’m here to do one job, and one job only, and that’s to win.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the 1,000th, the 2,000th or the 10,000th grand prix. It is an irrelevant figure for me.”
Hamilton, who trails his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by one point in the championship standings, knows he will face another stern test from Ferrari after the Italian team dominated in Bahrain.
The Mercedes star took advantage of Charles Leclerc’s late engine failure to take an unlikely win, but he is expecting Ferrari to hold the upper hand again this weekend.
Over at the Prancing Horse, Leclerc has emerged as a serious championship contender after upstaging his established team-mate Sebastian Vettel at the last round.
Vettel was not only slower than Leclerc, but he spun, while fighting for second place with Hamilton.
Hamilton later pointed towards Vettel’s career resume which boasts 52 wins and four championships in support of the under-fire German.
“Maybe he’s the only one that doesn’t lack a short-term memory,” said Vettel.
“We have been around a long time and as much as I want to beat Lewis, he wants to beat me, too. But sometimes you never know what is going on with other drivers at other teams.
“Sometimes things might not go your way, but I also know and understand that nowadays people’s judgement doesn’t go beyond a week. It’s part of life.”
Leclerc’s speedy arrival also threatens to destabilise Vettel as the number one at Ferrari.
“He’s a good kid and he’s fast,” said the four-time world champion of the 21-year-old. “He has proven why he deserves a place in Formula One.
“He’s straightforward to work with but I haven’t come across a driver that was a pain in the a***.
“I said prior to the season, it’s going to be a different challenge having a new team-mate. But I have always shown respect when others have done well, and he did well in Bahrain.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance. I know I can do better, and I know we have lots of races to show and improve that.”