Hamil­ton in spotlight

> All eyes on champ in US as F1 ti­tle chase en­ters home straight

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

LEWIS HAMIL­TON’S be­hav­iour on and off the cir­cuit will go un­der a sharp me­dia mi­cro­scope as he bids to keep his ti­tle chal­lenge alive at this week­end’s United States Grand Prix.

Back at the scene of his crush­ing ti­tle-win­ning tri­umph in 2015, when he scored a bel­liger­ent vic­tory to end Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg’s chal­lenge, the 31-year-old Bri­ton this time faces a very dif­fer­ent sce­nario.

It be­gins today when, two weeks after his con­tro­ver­sial Snapchat an­tics in Ja­pan, he re­turns to ap­pear be­fore the in­ter­na­tional me­dia at a manda­tory pre-event news con­fer­ence.

At Suzuka, he played on his cam­era and com­plained that the me­dia ses­sion was “killing me” and the furore that fol­lowed re­sulted in him walk­ing out of a team news brief­ing two days later.

That led to more me­dia up­roar that many be­lieved un­der­mined his con­cen­tra­tion and led to his poor race start that saw him fall from sec­ond on the grid to eighth.

He can ill af­ford any sim­i­lar slip this time as he goes into the first of the fi­nal four races of a roller-coaster sea­son with a 33point deficit be­hind Ros­berg.

The de­fend­ing three-time world cham­pion may be seek­ing his 50th ca­reer win at one of his favourite cir­cuits, but he knows that Ros­berg wants revenge after be­ing forced off track last year.

Ros­berg, also 31, has the lux­ury, how­ever, of know­ing that he does not have to win again this sea­son to clinch his first world ti­tle. Four sec­ond-place fin­ishes be­hind Hamil­ton will be enough.

As to his me­dia com­mit­ments, Hamil­ton has been con­firmed, by his Mercedes bosses, as a par­tic­i­pant in each and ev­ery one at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas de­spite sug­gest­ing, in Ja­pan, that he might not an­swer any more ques­tions from re­porters.

All this – and the news this week that he is to be a char­ac­ter in the next edi­tion of the video game ‘Call of Duty’ – sug­gests that Hamil­ton is rel­ish­ing his back-tothe-wall last-ditch bid for glory in a land where he feels at home and is widely pop­u­lar.

As usual, it has been im­pos­si­ble for the English­man to es­cape be­ing the main story ahead of this race while Ros­berg, win­ner of four of the last five races in which Hamil­ton has strug­gled, has been sub­dued.

“Ev­ery now and then I’ve seen peo­ple have an opin­ion about how emo­tional I get,” said Hamil­ton, who has three wins in four ap­pear­ances in Austin.

“It’s like I should be more happy – even when I’ve lost.

“But I think peo­ple for­get how heav­ily in­vested I am in this sport. It’s the same for any­one what­ever they are do­ing, it’s about how much in­vest­ment they have put in and my heart has been in­vested in this for 23 years.

“This has been part of my life since I was eight; it is an ex­ten­sion of my life and my body.”

As to the cham­pi­onship, Hamil­ton added: “We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s ex­actly what I plan to do.”

Ros­berg knows what he has to do in the ti­tle run-in and will be look­ing for some­thing bet­ter than last year’s dis­ap­point­ment.

“Last year this race ob­vi­ously didn’t work out so great for me, so I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting back and do­ing my best to get it right this time,” he said.

Both men, how­ever, will be mindful of the chal­lenge from a much-im­proved Red Bull out­fit and pos­si­bly Fer­rari.

A nervy and tense week­end is in prospect. – AFP

Lewis Hamil­ton (left) faces a daunt­ing task to de­fend his ti­tle against team­mate Nico Ros­berg ( right)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.