Ros­berg one win away from his first ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Win in Brazil on Sun­day, win the For­mula One ti­tle: Nico Ros­berg’s task sounds sim­ple enough but is a lot harder to achieve.

The Ger­man is one step away from se­cur­ing his first cham­pi­onship, which he will do if he wins at In­ter­la­gos re­gard­less of where Mercedes team mate, triple cham­pion and ti­tle ri­val Lewis Hamil­ton fin­ishes.

The odds are in Ros­berg’s favour-he has won for the past two sea­sons from pole po­si­tion in Sao Paulo whereas the an­ti­clock­wise cir­cuit has yet to re­ward Hamil­ton with a vic­tory.

And yet the pres­sure of be­ing within touch­ing dis­tance of a life­long dream can play on the mind, and in­crease the pres­sure, while the fickle Sao Paulo weather can wreak havoc with the best laid plans.

Last year, Hamil­ton had al­ready won the ti­tle and his fo­cus was else­where. This time he comes on the back of two suc­ces­sive wins and, like Ros­berg, seek­ing a hat-trick.

An­other win for the Bri­ton would take the bat­tle down to the wire at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Ma­rina and, if Ros­berg were to fail to score in Brazil, a po­ten­tial ‘win­ner takes all’ sce­nario.

“I’ll wait un­til the end of the year,” said For­mula One supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone when asked whether he felt Ros­berg looked a ‘fairly safe bet’.

Ros­berg will not be chang­ing his ‘one race at a time’ ap­proach.

“There are still two races to go and any­thing can hap­pen in this sport, so I need to fo­cus my en­ergy on the fac­tors that I have in my con­trol,” he said.

Hamil­ton is in un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, with the ti­tle out­come out of his hands even if he wins in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, but needs no re­mind­ing that it is not over un­til it’s over. Re­li­a­bil­ity, or lack of, can swing the mo­men­tum ei­ther way and Mercedes will be do­ing all they can to en­sure both driv­ers have no me­chan­i­cal is­sues.

The mem­ory of his first cham­pi­onship with McLaren in 2008, se­cured in Brazil with an over­take on the last cor­ner of the last lap just when it seemed lo­cal favourite Felipe Massa had clinched the ti­tle, is al­ways there.

“It’s an un­usual sce­nario to be in-fight­ing for some­thing and not know­ing for sure that what you do will guar­an­tee you’re able to make it,” said Hamil­ton. “One out­come would be painful and the other would be a great achieve­ment.

“Re­gard­less, I’m go­ing to keep push­ing. Since the be­gin­ning of my For­mula One ca­reer I’ve seen that ev­ery­thing can change even at the very last mo­ment, so you have to fight to the bit­ter end. I’ve never won in Brazil, so I go into this week­end fo­cused on chang­ing that.”

Away from the ti­tle bat­tle, both Mercedes driv­ers will have to watch out for Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen and Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen.

Vet­tel must also watch his lan­guage, af­ter turn­ing the air blue in Mex­ico with his ra­dio rants. Massa mean­while will soak up the at­mos­phere one last time, with Sun­day be­ing his home farewell be­fore re­tire­ment from Wil­liams.

McLaren’s Jen­son But­ton will also be mak­ing what could be his last ap­pear­ance at the track where he won the 2009 cham­pi­onship. — Reuters

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