Ros­berg, Hamil­ton re­new F1 ti­tle bat­tle

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

can clinch a third straight For­mula One con­struc­tors’ ti­tle on Sun­day at the Malaysian Grand Prix while their pair of resur­gent Nico Ros­berg and Lewis Hamil­ton con­tinue a fierce driv­ers’ tro­phy fight.

Mercedes hold a mas­sive lead of 222 points over Red Bull and will clinch first place with five races to spare if Red Bull don’t gar­ner eights more than them on the 5.543k Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit.

Team boss Toto Wolff is more than happy with the sea­son but has also warned that “we must re­main on our toes to get the ball over the line.”

Resur­gent Ros­berg mean­while re­turned to the top of the driv­ers’ list eight points ahead of Hamil­ton with victory in Sin­ga­pore a fort­night ago.

The Ger­man has won the last three races in Bel­gium, Italy and Sin­ga­pore, all a first for Ros­berg on the re­spec­tive course, and he aims to con­tinue this trend in swel­ter­ing Malaysia where is also yet to tri­umph.

The race was in the past years held early in the sea­son but has now been moved back in the cal­en­dar, gain­ing in im­por­tance through the fierce ti­tle race which ac­cord­ing to both driv­ers is far from over.

Ros­berg clearly has the mo­men­tum on his side but is firmly keep­ing his feet on the ground de­spite a lot of con­fi­dence.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble po­si­tion to be in as a driver, know­ing you have a shot at win­ning ev­ery week­end,” he said.

“I won’t take it for granted. I’ve had a good run lately and I’m en­joy­ing the mo­ment. But as far as the next race goes, or the next one af­ter that and so on ... it’s any­one’s game.”

Hamil­ton, who won six of seven races dur­ing the summer to go top tem­po­rar­ily, said that sev­eral fac­tors will de­ter­mine the out­come of the ti­tle race which could go down to the wire un­til the Novem­ber 27 sea­son-en­der in Abu Dhabi.

“We’re both fiercely com­pet­i­tive. Some week­ends he does great, some week­ends I do great. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of things that all come to­gether to make a strong week­end and ev­ery one is dif­fer­ent,” Hamil­ton said.

“I have no idea if the mo­men­tum will swing back to me or when it might. But we still have six races left, so I just have to keep giv­ing it my all and hope for the best. That’s all you can do as a sports­man.

“It’s go­ing to take some good re­sults to get back in front and stay there – but I’ve had plenty of those in the past, so there’s no rea­son to think they won’t come back to me again.”

But Mercedes must be on their guard in what Wolff named “a gru­elling phase” of the sea­son in which “the phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenge of a cham­pi­onship reaches its ab­so­lute peak.”

Ros­berg sur­vived a big chal­lenge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo in Sin­ga­pore while in Malaysia last year Se­bas­tian Vet­tel got his first victory for Fer­rari and fourth over­all there by beat­ing Hamil­ton and Ros­berg.

The Ger­man driver and his Italian team would love noth­ing more than a re­peat on Sun­day in a so far win­less sea­son.

“We did very well last year, so we’ll try to re­peat what we did. For sure the first win with Fer­rari was very emo­tional and very spe­cial ... I have good mem­o­ries and I am look­ing for­ward to go­ing back to Malaysia and hit the track,” Vet­tel said. – dpa

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