Talk­ing points from the Ja­panese GP

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

Hamil­ton’s fate out of his hands LEWIS HAMIL­TON’S hopes of re­tain­ing his world cham­pi­onship are hang­ing by a thread af­ter Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg swept to his fourth vic­tory in five races in Ja­pan. Hamil­ton’s bat­tling third left him 33 points be­hind with four races to go. Even if Hamil­ton were to win all of them, Ros­berg would only need to fin­ish sec­ond in each to se­cure the ti­tle. On cur­rent form – and with Hamil­ton’s frag­ile state of mind – Ros­berg could wrap up his first cham­pi­onship in dou­ble-quick time.

Vet­tel un­der the cosh THERE IS no mis­tak­ing the pres­sure Se­bas­tian Vet­tel is un­der af­ter Fer­rari boss Mau­r­izio Ar­riv­abene dropped a bomb­shell at Suzuka by call­ing on the four-time world cham­pion to fight for his seat in the team be­yond 2017. Vet­tel was brought in to re­store the team’s glory days – a la Michael Schumacher – and in his first sea­son, the Ger­man won three races. But Vet­tel has been plagued by tech­ni­cal trou­ble and poor form this year. His nerves were au­di­bly fray­ing dur­ing Sun­day’s race, as he re­peat­edly com­plained about back mark­ers, shak­ing his fist an­grily and turn­ing the team ra­dio blue.

To the Max for Ver­stap­pen RED BULL’S Max Ver­stap­pen has courted con­tro­versy this sea­son for his ag­gres­sive driv­ing style but he can­not be ac­cused of lack­ing courage. When the 19-year-old moved late in the brak­ing zone to block Hamil­ton’s at­tempt to pass as the Mercedes swarmed all over him in Ja­pan, it en­raged the Bri­ton, who sub­se­quently had to set­tle for third place. Mercedes lodged a for­mal protest, but with­drew it at Hamil­ton’s re­quest as Ver­stap­pen, who has up­set plenty of driv­ers with sim­i­lar moves in­sisted he had done noth­ing wrong.

Ros­berg icy cool as team­mate melts down ROS­BERG is in the form of his life. He has won four of the last five races and nine in to­tal this sea­son. Surely he couldn’t blow it from here, could he? Ros­berg’s has suf­fered his fair share of heart­break, most of it at the hands of his neme­sis Hamil­ton. He be­gan this sea­son on fire too, only to frit­ter away a 43-point lead of the Bri­ton. But this looks like a dif­fer­ent Ros­berg, one with ice in his veins. Asked about Hamil­ton’s em­bar- rass­ing row with in­ter­na­tional me­dia in Ja­pan, Ros­berg re­sponded coldly: “It’s about get­ting the best out of my­self and not fo­cus­ing on what Lewis’s state of mind is.”

Honda progress’ MCLAREN’S en­gine sup­pli­ers Honda were be­ing tipped as dark horses for next sea­son be­fore their home race at Suzuka, but a year on from Fer­nando Alonso’s in­fa­mous “GP2 en­gine” rant, lit­tle ap­peared to have changed on Sun­day. An up­graded power unit failed to rev up McLaren as Alonso and Jen­son But­ton never re­motely threat­ened to col­lect points. Of all the places to flop, Suzuka was not it. Alonso and But­ton fin­ished a dis­tant 16th and 18th, re­sults Alonso de­scribed as a “nasty sur­prise.” – AFP still a ‘work in

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