Fum­ing Hamil­ton seeks so­lace in Ja­pan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Lewis Hamil­ton needs a quick fix of Zen-like mind con­trol in Ja­pan this week­end af­ter a cruel en­gine fire left the world cham­pion fum­ing in Malaysia.

Hamil­ton an­grily de­manded an ex­pla­na­tion from his Mercedes team af­ter his hopes of halt­ing Nico Ros­berg’s surg­ing mo­men­tum went up in smoke last Sun­day, al­low­ing Daniel Ric­cia­rdo to lead Red Bull’s first onetwo in nearly three years.

As Ros­berg opened a 23-point ad­van­tage in the ti­tle stand­ings with five races re­main­ing fol­low­ing his third-place fin­ish, Hamil­ton raged at his mis­for­tune and threat­ened to ig­nite a row within the Mercedes team by rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a con­spir­acy against him.

“My ques­tions are to Mercedes,” Hamil­ton de­manded af­ter Sepang, ask­ing why of the eight cars on the grid fit­ted with Mercedes en­gines, only his have conked out this sea­son.

“There are eight driv­ers and mine are the only ones who has failed. Some­one has to give me some an­swers and it is not ac­cept­able. Some­one doesn’t want me to win this year.”

Hamil­ton has only a mat­ter of days to dust him­self down in a quick turn­around be­fore Ja­pan, but he can seek so­lace in the fact he has won in Ja­pan three times and will be chas­ing a hat-trick of wins-and the 50th of his F1 ca­reer-in Suzuka on Sun­day.

Mercedes team prin­ci­pal Toto Wolff called Hamil­ton’s en­gine trou­ble “a freaky co­in­ci­dence” and chal­lenged Hamil­ton to bounce back in the ti­tle run-in. “Our guys will get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened and learn from it,” he promised. “But I want to fo­cus on how Lewis re­sponds in the af­ter­math. We let him down to­day and we are beat­ing up our­selves about it.”

TEST OF WILL

Af­ter com­pos­ing him­self, Hamil­ton said: “I hon­estly feel that it’s a test of my will, my spirit and who I am as a per­son to get back in and keep fight­ing it head on. It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.” Dur­ing a tur­bu­lent week­end in Malaysia, Hamil­ton had also moaned about the “psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects” of break­ing up his ti­tle-win­ning crew by switch­ing five me­chan­ics to Ros­berg’s side of the garage.

Wolff took a dim view of Hamil­ton’s re­newed crit­i­cism of a Mercedes de­ci­sion taken at the start of the sea­son.

“There is no Team Hamil­ton and no Team Ros­berg,” he said, us­ing a football anal­ogy to un­der­line his point.

“No foot­baller would tell Jose Mour­inho or Pep Guardi­ola who he’d like to play with. It’s the man­ager’s call to de­cide who is in the squad.” Af­ter a year plagued by tech­ni­cal grem­lins, time is run­ning out for the 2014 and 2015 cham­pion Hamil­ton to quash Ros­berg’s at­tempt to de­throne him. The Ger­man, who had over­hauled Hamil­ton in the ti­tle race af­ter three straight wins, is in the form of his life and fought back to fin­ish third in Malaysia fol­low­ing a first-cor­ner col­li­sion with Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s Fer­rari. Ric­cia­rdo will be look­ing to build on his first vic­tory in two years, in­sist­ing the Red Bulls can pose a threat in what is fore­cast to be a wet race in Ja­pan.

“I ac­tu­ally think we will be more com­pet­i­tive at Suzuka,” said the Aus­tralian, who came home ahead of 19-year-old team-mate Max Ver­stap­pen at Sepang.

“In the rain we could be very strong. If it rains I be­lieve we can win the race. If it’s dry, Mercedes would be favourites.” —AFP

SEPANG: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamil­ton of Bri­tain walks from his car af­ter an en­gine fail­ure dur­ing the Malaysian For­mula One Grand Prix at the Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in Sepang, Malaysia, last Sun­day. — AP

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