Hamilton was in sensational form as he captured his sixth Montreal pole – which was also his 65th career pole in F1, moving him level with Senna for a share of second place in the record books, behind only Michael Schumacher on 68. As part of the post-session interview, the Mercedes star was presented with one of Senna’s famous yellow helmets, leaving him in a state of shock.
“I am shaking,” Hamilton said. “Ayrton is the one who inspired me to be where I am. To match him and receive this is the greatest honour.
“For the Senna family to send me this… is the most special thing I have above and beyond all my trophies and everything.
“I am honoured to be honoured by that family and honestly I couldn’t be happier.”
Having idolised Senna as a child, Hamilton said it was bizarre to now be level with the three-time world champion.
“Literally as a kid I’d come home and say ‘one day if I’m really lucky and I can get to Formula 1 I’d want to emulate Ayrton’. The fact that I’ve now reached him in that area – I just can’t believe it. Honestly I can’t believe it.
“My final lap worked perfectly – I could see my delta picking up and getting excited, but at the time I had no comprehension about the 65th – I forgot that, it was the here and now.
“I just want to say a big thank you to my family for supporting me all these years and giving me the opportunity to be here today. I am standing here today, but the work they put in behind me… no one could imagine. But I know.
“I live in an apartment in Monaco, so I don’t have a lot of space for a lot of trophies. But I’ve definitely got space for [the helmet] – maybe my table centre piece in my living room so it’s the first thing you see when you come in!”
Bianca Senna, director of the Ayrton Senna Institute and the driver’s niece, has praised the homage to Hamilton who, like her uncle, is also a three-time F1 champion.
“We’ve known for many years that Lewis [Hamilton] is a big fan of my uncle’s – he’s actually an official Ayrton Senna Institute ambassador, supporting our actions that promote a better education for Brazilian children. Just like Ayrton, he makes sure to share his accomplishments with his fans. Our family is very happy with his achievements and I’m sure Ayrton would be in Montreal to deliver this gift, absolutely content in seeing his record being equaled by a driver as talented as Lewis [Hamilton]”, says Bianca.