Hamilton is going places fast

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SAO PAULO, Oct 19 (Reuters) McLaren's championship leader Lewis Hamilton wants to win the Formula One title so badly it hurts.

''I am so competitive. I always want to over-achieve. I want to achieve more and more and more,'' the 22-year-old Briton told reporters before Sunday's three-way title battle in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

''I want to win. I want it so bad, and the last race really showed me just how much I want it,'' added the man who could become the first rookie champion as well as the youngest.

The sensational Hamilton, who leads Spanish team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso by four points, might have secured the title already had he not skidded out of the previous race in China on a wet track and badly worn tyres.

He has a second chance at Interlagos and this time he is determined to seize it, even if the anti-clockwise circuit is unfamiliar and the pressure immense with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen three points behind Alonso.

''Every driver has nerves...'' said Hamilton. ''But I feel I was born for this, so I know I've got it in me.'' CARIBBEAN ORIGINS Hamilton may be a natural racer but nobody could say he was born to be a Formula One driver, even if speed has been a part of his life since he was christened Lewis Carl in homage to U.S.

Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Carl Lewis.

Son of a former railway employee, and grandson of a man who emigrated to Britain from Grenada to work on the London Underground, Hamilton hardly comes from a conventional motor racing background.

He has watched the Hollywood movie 'Cool Runnings' for inspiration and his tale of triumph against adversity in becoming Formula One's first black driver is not dissimilar to that of the 1988 Jamaican Olympic Bobsleigh team.

Comparisons have been made with Tiger Woods, who opened up golf to a new audience, with Hamilton also broadening Formula One's appeal. Others see echoes of Ayrton Senna, the late Brazilian triple champion.

''It's quite surreal being here. For many years I've wanted to come to Brazil and race at Interlagos,'' Hamilton, who wears a similar yellow helmet to his boyhood hero, told reporters at a sponsor function yesterday.

''My first real opportunity is now here, and I'm buzzing. I can't wait. I'm really excited about this.'' ''I've been leading the world championship since the third race, and for me that's just mind-blowing,'' added the Briton.

''Entering the season I was just hoping to do a good job, maybe get some points and some podium positions, I could never have imagined I would have four race wins and six poles.'' ALONSO FEUD Alonso never imagined the rookie would be such a handful either, and the relationship between them deteriorated swiftly once it became apparent how quick Hamilton was.

He may have his detractors in Spain and Italy but elsewhere his popularity is evident. Formula One's leading lights have been lining up to commend a man who could one day become Britain's highest earning sportsman.

Hamilton has been champion in every series he has entered and his debut, with nine straight podiums and four wins to date, is unprecedented.

The close bond with father Anthony, who held down multiple jobs to get his son started in karting, as well as half-brother Nicholas who has cerebral palsy, has been a driving force and source of strength.

McLaren have backed Hamilton for a decade, team boss Ron Dennis taking note when the youngster walked up to him at an awards ceremony in London and told him he wanted to drive for his team one day.

''It's a Boys Own fairytale story,'' Britain's last world champion Damon Hill said last month.

''He has overcome all the obstacles that may have been put in his way since he came to people's attention at a very young age.

He has gone against the grain and will prove a fantastic champion.'' REUTERS BJR RN2232

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