Hamilton keeps ti­tle bid alive

> Bri­ton beats Ros­berg in stormy Mex­ico Grand Prix

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

DE­FEND­ING CHAM­PION Lewis Hamilton kept alive his ti­tle de­fence with a con­trolled vic­tory ahead of cham­pi­onship leader and Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg in a stormy Mex­i­can Grand Prix.

The 31-year-old Bri­ton came home com­fort­ably ahead of the Ger­man to trim his ad­van­tage to 19 points with two races re­main­ing af­ter a fiery fin­ish to the 71-lap race.

This saw four-time cham­pion Se­bas­tian Vet­tel lose his tem­per dur­ing a tem­pes­tu­ous ex­change fol­low­ing a clash with Dutch teenager Max Ver­stap­pen of Red Bull.

The con­flict was set­tled by the ste­wards who swiftly handed the Dutch­man a fivesec­ond penalty for gain­ing an ad­van­tage when he went off the track at Turn One.

Ver­stap­pen, who had fin­ished third, had al­ready taken his place in the pre-podium room with the two Mercedes driv­ers be­fore the ste­wards’ de­ci­sion was taken – while Vet­tel fumed and gave vent to a stream of pro­fan­i­ties – but made a hasty re­treat when the Ger­man came to the room.

How­ever, al­most three hours af­ter the race had ended, Vet­tel was pe­nalised 10 sec­onds and de­moted from third to fifth af­ter of­fi­cials deemed he had made a dan­ger­ous block­ing move on Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo.

That moved Ric­cia­rdo up to third and Ver­stap­pen to fourth.

But the fi­nal fury could not over­shadow a near-flaw­less drive by Hamilton to his sec­ond win in suc­ces­sion, his eighth of the sea­son and the 51st of his ca­reer.

“It’s my first win in Mex­ico and for that I am very happy,” said Hamilton. “Nico is do­ing a great job and I just aim to keep win­ning. It’s all I can do.”

Hamilton also went off-cir­cuit at Turn One on the open­ing lap, but with­out be­ing pe­nalised – in much the same way that Ver­stap­pen was to in the clos­ing laps – be­fore he set­tled and drove with his cus­tom­ary elan.

Ros­berg said: “It’s been a good day. I haven’t been too fast this week­end so I have to ac­cept sec­ond. I got shunted at the start and had a bat­tle with Max Ver­stap­pen late on, so sec­ond is ok.”

Vet­tel was still fum­ing on the podium – although his mood would have got a lot darker later when he was pun­ished.

“He (Ver­stap­pen) left the track and didn’t move and so you can un­der­stand why I was an­noyed.”

Sixth was Kimi Raikko­nen in the sec­ond Fer­rari while Nico Hulken­berg was sev­enth for Force In­dia.

Valt­teri Bot­tas fin­ished eighth for Wil­liams ahead of his team­mate Felipe Massa and lo­cal hero Ser­gio Perez who claimed the fi­nal point in the sec­ond Force In­dia.

The Mercedes team’s one-two vic­tory was a record 17th for the sea­son and it was Hamilton’s 30th win from pole po­si­tion.

Only seven-time cham­pion Michael Schu­macher has more on 40.

Hamilton is now level with four-time cham­pion French­man Alain Prost on 51 wins.

Ros­berg can clinch his maiden driv­ers’ ti­tle if he wins the Brazil­ian Grand Prix at In­ter­la­gos, a cir­cuit on which Hamilton has never won, on Novem­ber 13.

On a bright and dry af­ter­noon at the Au­to­dromo Her­manos Ro­driguez, a crowd of around 110,000 gen­er­ated a rau­cous at­mos­phere be­fore the lights went out for the start.

Hamilton, af­ter a slug­gish first phase to his launch from his 10th pole po­si­tion of the sea­son, pulled clear to lead the 900-me­tres run down to Turn one where he locked up heav­ily, cre­at­ing a flat spot on a tyre, and ran off cir­cuit.

Lucky for the English­man, there were no kerbs as he speared across an as­phalt run-off area and an area of grass be­fore re­join­ing ahead of Ros­berg who, in turn, had sur­vived a mi­nor clash with Ver­stap­pen’s Red Bull and also re­joined af­ter run­ning off.

That in­ci­dent re­quired a ste­wards in­quiry which re­sulted in no ac­tion taken.

Ver­stap­pen, as so of­ten, was pro­vid­ing much of the en­ter­tain­ment as he hunted down Ros­berg.

When the Ger­man locked up, on lap 49, the teenager passed him at Turn One with a lunge down the in­side, but he was un­able to con­trol it and ran wide.

Vet­tel closed to within 2.5 sec­onds of Ver­stap­pen and then, with four laps re­main­ing, pres­surised the young Dutch­man into an er­ror at Turn One, where he out­braked him­self and ran across the grass

That was the in­ci­dent which caused the con­tro­versy and penal­ties which fol­lowed. – AFP

– AFPPIX

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver Lewis Hamilton raises his tro­phy on the podium at the end of the For­mula One Mex­ico Grand Prix at the Her­manos Ro­driguez cir­cuit in Mex­ico City yes­ter­day.

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