I live for racing at top level: Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton revealed he has surprised himself by the run of "dream" drives which leave him standing on the brink of another Formula One world title.
While it is too early for Hamilton's seemingly inevitable championship coronation to take place in Japan tomorrow evening, only a meltdown by team or driver stand in the way of glory this season.
Hamilton, who was comfortably fastest in both practice sessions at Suzuka yesterday, has recorded five victories from his last six outings to establish a dominant 50-point lead over Sebastian Vettel.
And with a maximum of only 125 championship points on the table, it is surely a case of when, rather than if, he will engrave his name alongside Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the owner of five world crowns.
Although Hamilton had Mercedes to thank for his 70th career win in Russia last Sunday - after they controversially used team orders to usher aside Valtteri Bottas - he has been in electric form following the summer break.
Hamilton, with inferior machinery, destroyed both Ferrari cars on their home patch in Monza last month to take a fine win, before he delivered one of the qualifying laps of his career at the next round in Singapore to pave the way for another victory. He was lightning fast on Friday, too.
As the season reaches its climax, the Briton can now afford to score four third-place finishes and one second at the final five grands prix to secure the championship spoils.
"When I look back at those recent races, I couldn't have hoped for better performances," Hamilton said. "There have been some dream experiences for me, performing at that level.
"It is what I live for.
"As the season progresses you hope that you can improve, and usually you do get better, but I didn't know I was going to improve in the way that I have."
If, as expected, Hamilton takes the chequered flag here tomorrow - a race that he has won in three of the past four years - then there is a small chance that he could secure the championship in America in a fortnight. The probability, however, is that he may have to wait until Mexico a week later.
"The earlier you can win the title, the better because there is less stress for the team," he added. "You gain back some years of your life the quicker you get it done, too."
Hamilton finished the best part of half-a-second faster than anybody else in practice yesterday. Bottas was second, while Vettel ended the day an uncomfortable 0.883 seconds down on his rival.