Singapore - Lewis Hamilton said he was "carrying the baton" for Ayrton Senna on Thursday as he bids to match his idol's tally of 41 wins in 161 races at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton said he felt like he was now winning on behalf of the late Brazilian, whose career was cruelly cut short at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at the age of 34.
Comparisons are now striking as Hamilton, 30, can also match Senna's record of eight consecutive pole positions, and this year stands to equal his haul of three world titles.
"It doesn't matter if it's this weekend or next weekend or the weekend after, I will have eventually the same amount of wins as Ayrton," Hamilton told reporters in Singapore.
"I feel like Ayrton, if he was fortunate enough to be able to continue, he would have won many more races and many more championships so I think I'm going to be carrying the baton for both of us and striving to win more for the both of us.
"I think if he was around we would be friends."
Senna's shadow continues to loom large over Formula One and equalling his milestones would be a career highlight for Hamilton, who was nine at the time of the Brazilian's death.
Britain's Hamilton was also a long-time driver for McLaren, Senna's former team, until switching to Mercedes in 2013 and winning his second F1 championship last year.
Hamilton said despite his 53-point lead, which means he could lift the title without winning another race this year, he would still be pushing hard this week.
"Just because we're ahead, doesn't mean that we're taking it easy," Hamilton said. "When I go out in the car I push it, I drive the nuts off it, every single time.
"There's never been any difference from the time I've had a crap car (until now)."
Hamilton's nearest challenger, team-mate Nico Rosberg, said he hadn't yet given up his slim hopes of winning the title, despite the yawning deficit.
"I have a chance so I have a choice to keep believing or not, and I chose to keep believing. Historically in sport anything can happen," said the German.
"There's still seven races to go, lots of points, so I'll keep pushing. With the car we have, it's possible to win every race weekend."