Lewis Hamilton accepts he is more likely to lose the Formula One title than win it, even if he is giving it his best shot, but failure will hurt less than in 2007 when he missed out by a single point.
The triple world champion’s victory in Mexico on Sunday was the 51st of his career, putting him second equal on the all-time lists with France’s Alain Prost.
“I am not focused on the championship now, I am focused on trying to win these races, performing at my best,” said the Mercedes driver, 19 points behind team mate Nico Rosberg with two rounds remaining.
Rosberg will be champion for the first time if the German triumphs in Brazil, a race he has dominated from pole position for the past two years and that Hamilton has yet to win, next week.
Asked whether he was prepared to lose, Hamilton said he had been there before.
“I lost in 2007 and I know it won’t be as painful as then,” he said, referring to his rookie season with McLaren when he was pipped in the final race in Brazil by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
“I have lost many races and championships in my career so it is not like I haven’t experienced it. I am in a scenario now where there is more of a chance I will lose it than win it. It is hard to swallow but it is what it is.
“Life will move on, I will move on. I still have three (titles). I really hope next year I don’t have reliability problems.”
Rosberg finished second on Sunday and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said there was now less pressure on the German.
“I think for Nico it’s maybe beneficial now because all this talking (about how) ‘you need to finish second in order to make it to the end’ is finished now,” Wolff told reporters.
“He has it in his hands. If he wins the race in Brazil, he’s winning the championship early.
“I think this is maybe a bit easier in terms of tackling the situation with a little bit less pressure because he still has another go in Abu Dhabi.”
Rosberg, the bookmakers’ favourite, has adopted the mantra of one race at a time and said that would remain the same.
“I’m not going to change my approach,” he said. “I’m going for the win in Brazil.”