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You either love me or hate me - Hamilton

ESPN Staff
March 12, 2013 « McLaren needed to take risks with new car - Whitmarsh | Sutil learned a lot from year away - Force India »
Lewis Hamilton: "There are tons of people who dislike me but tons who really like me" © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton aspires to leave the same impact on Formula One that Ayrton Senna did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Senna was an icon in the sport and won three titles with Hamilton's old team McLaren before joining Williams. At the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix he died in an accident while leading the race but was already a legend of the sport who is still revered among fans.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Hamilton said he hoped to one day achieve a similar level of "greatness".

"When I speak about greatness, I just know the stories about Ayrton Senna, the way he would walk into a room, the aura he had, how he carried himself, how he drove and inspired people, inspired a nation - that is greatness. I hope that I will have that greatness."

He reckons he has become a love/hate figure in the sport after some of his words and actions have been misinterpreted.

"I am either hated or loved," he added. "Unfortunately, when I got into F1, I sometimes said one thing and meant another and people took it the wrong way. They don't forget. For example, go to Spain. They generally hate me there. You are branded. All you can do is try to change it slowly, but it takes time. There are tons of people who dislike me but tons who really like me, too. What I guarantee is that people who don't, change their opinions when they meet me."

However, at his new team Mercedes he is hoping to show more of his true character than he did at McLaren.

"I have come from a controlled environment where you had to do and say what you were told," he said. "While you have to keep your values and remain respectful and polite, you can still be who you want to be."

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