Mexican GP: Lewis Hamilton moved by praise from his fellow drivers
Lewis Hamilton has described the praise he has been given from his fellow drivers as "one of the greatest compliments" an F1 world champion can receive.
After surging clear of Sebastian Vettel in the title race, Hamilton is poised to secure his fourth world championship this weekend at the Mexican GP - a feat which, if and when completed, will make him the most successful British driver in Formula 1 and only the fifth in the sport's history to claim a fourth title.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said this week: "Lewis is about to break all records that have been set in Formula 1, and it is just a matter of time that people will say he is on track to being the best driver that has ever existed."
Hamilton's former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, added: "He's probably the most gifted driver that's ever driven a Formula 1 car."
In the ultra-competitive world of F1, it is rare for any driver to offer words of acknowledgment, let alone praise, for one of his peers.
But ahead of his home race, Force India's Sergio Perez admitted he believed Hamilton was without equal in the field. "Lewis is the best driver on the grid. Lewis is something special," Perez, who replaced Hamilton at McLaren when he departed for Mercedes, told Sky Sports.
Felipe Massa went further, placing Hamilton alongside two of the sport's most legendary figures.
"Lewis is definitely one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1," said the Williams driver. "You cannot really take him away or in a different level compared to Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. He's there."
Even Fernando Alonso, with whom Hamilton spent a mutually destructive single season when he debuted in F1 in 2007, offered the Englishman warm words of acknowledgment ahead of the 32-year-old's anticipated coronation in Mexico.
Asked if Hamilton now ranked among the all-time top five drivers in F1, Alonso replied: "Yes.
"He was able to win in the smaller series and arrived in Formula 1 with a good [number of] championship trophies in his pocket.
"Then every single season has performed very competitively, apart from one or two with Jenson [Button at McLaren] where he had some issues.
"But Lewis is one of the champions who was able to win with a dominant car, like the last three years, a good car like 2010 and 2012, or bad cars like 2009 and 2011.
"Not all the champions can say that."
Ahead of this weekend's race, in which fifth place would be sufficient to guarantee a fourth championship, Hamilton revealed his pleasure at receiving the words of praise from his peers.
"It really makes me happy to hear positive things from other drivers," the Mercedes driver told Sky Sports News.
"I don't really think about what other people comment or say about me.
"But definitely your colleagues, people you race against, to have positivity from them is one of the greatest compliments you can have. They know how difficult it is to be consistent, to perform weekend in and weekend out.
"It's very welcome."