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Hamilton moved by Senna tribute

It was a tribute that shattered the cool exterior Hamilton usually presents to the outside world.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2007 17:01 IST

Rising Formula One star Lewis Hamilton was left close to tears after the sister of three-times champion Ayrton Senna said she reminded him of her late brother.

The Brazilian racing great, who died aged 34 in 1994 after a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix at Italy's Imola track, was Hamilton's boyhood hero.

During the annual awards ceremony organised by Autosport magazine he received two of his three prizes from Vivian Senna who said the 22-year-old Briton was similar to her brother, both on and off the track.

"He reminds me of Ayrton as a pilot and also as a good man - we can see this in his eyes and his face."

It was a tribute that shattered the cool exterior Hamilton usually presents to the outside world.

"I have never been choked so much in my life," said the McLaren driver who, in his debut season in Formula One, stunned the world of Grand Prix racing this year by finishing second in the world championship .

"It meant the world to me and she said some lovely things. I had vowed to never cry on television and in front of a big audience but it was one of those moments. I couldn't control it. I was at a loss for words," he added.

"I met Vivian at the Brazilian Grand Prix and being in her presence there was very special - but for her to come over here and present me with the award, it was as good as Ayrton being there.

"I never got to meet him. I only know what kind of a character he was through his books and watching his videos.

"I only hope I can shine in a similar way. I will never forget the impact he has had on my life."

Hamilton received further honours on Monday, to go with Sunday's Autosport treble of British competition driver of the year, best international racing driver and rookie of the year, when a season that yielded four Grand Prix wins and 12 podium finishes in all got additional recognition with the award of a gold star from the British Racing Drivers' Club.

He is also one of the leading contenders to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award this coming Sunday.

"I am shocked by all of this," Hamilton said Monday. "Never in a million years did I think I would win so many awards.

"The BRDC have done so much for British sport and supported me all the way through, so it is great to receive the gold star.

"For the BBC Sports Personality, I will just go there and enjoy the evening and meet people I would not normally get the opportunity to meet.

"If I did win it would mean a huge amount. The greatest have won that award, but I am up against some amazing talent."