Lewis Hamilton said inspecting the Imola circuit today was a “harsh reminder” of Ayrton Senna’s death at the track in 1994.

But the Mercedes driver said he finds it heart-warming to think he is racing on the same circuits as the the sport’s past greats and his personal hero.

“Obviously, the history of 1994 is something we always remember,” said Hamilton. “I went ’round today and it was a really special lap, just going round and seeing this historic track, passing the harsh reminder of where Ayrton crashed.”

Hamilton said he is still struck by the fact he races on great venues of the sport’s history such as Imola.

“It is very surreal still for me when I go to places where you drive through the tunnel in Monaco, you drive through the British Grand Prix where you know that the greats in the past had raced at those places.

“Earlier on I was in an area that many years, 26 years ago, Ayrton was here doing what he loved as I am. So that’s in one way that’s heart-warming to know that I was able to be here and do what he was doing 26 years ago. But otherwise it’s just another race.”

He said touring the track reminded him of his first experiences visiting new countries when he was racing karts as a boy.

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“What I was really impressed with was just the surroundings, the trees. It’s a beautiful part of the country.

“It really took me back to when you first go to a country – when I first came to Italy when I raced it was so much different to the UK scenery-wise. I remember that feeling the first time and I felt that and I’ve not felt that in a long, long time.

“Today, going around the track, it really was reminiscent of my first days and my time when I was karting here so it just reminded me of the love that I have for Italy.”

Hamilton recalled learning of Senna’s death on May 1st, 1994 while he was competing in a karting event and how it affected him at the time.

“I was racing at Rye House in karting. My dad had a red Vauxhall Cavalier and we had a white box trailer with a gas heater shoved at the deep end of the trailer and I was helping my dad fix the kart, changing the wheel. I think I was helping to do the bolts up on the rear wheel of my cadet kart.

“I don’t know how he got the news but someone told him that Ayrton had died. And I remember I had to walk away from my dad because my dad would never let me cry in front of him. So I had to go to a different place and it was not so easy.

“I remember trying to channel that that sadness into my driving and I think I won that weekend. But the following weeks were very tough.”

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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