Talking points from the Japanese GP
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