Hamil­ton con­cedes de­feat is likely

> Bri­tish driver be­lieves his ri­val is ‘do­ing all he has to do’ to get over the line in their cham­pi­onship tus­sle <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY PHILIP DUN­CAN

LEWIS HAMIL­TON has con­ceded it is now un­likely he will stop Nico Ros­berg from win­ning the For­mula One ti­tle af­ter claim­ing his ri­val is “do­ing all he has to do” to get over the fin­ish line and seal his maiden cham­pi­onship.

Hamil­ton has crushed his Mercedes team­mate at the last three races – in­clud­ing a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play in the wet in Brazil – to move to within 12 points of his ti­tle ri­val ahead of the fi­nal race of the sea­son in Abu Dhabi a week on Sun­day.

But Ros­berg needs only to se­cure a top-three fin­ish un­der the flood­lights to em­u­late his fa­ther Keke, the 1982 world cham­pion, and fi­nally end his lon­grun­ning los­ing streak to Hamil­ton.

In­deed Hamil­ton, whose ti­tle de­fence has been ham­pered by poor re­li­a­bil­ity, could now end the year with more vic­to­ries and pole po­si­tions than Ros­berg and still miss out on the ti­tle.

“I am happy that I beat ev­ery­one, and I am happy that, with the same car as Nico – and Nico is driv­ing at his best right now – he had noth­ing on me,” Hamil­ton said.

“Nico is do­ing all he has to do. He has fin­ished ev­ery race, not had any prob­lems, whereas I have.

“I am in an awk­ward po­si­tion go­ing into the last race. It doesn’t re­ally make a big dif­fer­ence if I go and drive like I do right now be­cause I have al­ready lost so much through the year.

“I don’t give up be­cause you never know what could hap­pen – it is un­likely – but you never know what could hap­pen.”

Hamil­ton has en­coun­tered a num­ber of re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues this sea­son – none more dra­matic than at Oc­to­ber’s Malaysian Grand Prix, when his en­gine blew up as he was about to take charge of the cham­pi­onship.

With­out that fail­ure, Hamil­ton, who sub­se­quently hinted at a con­spir­acy the­ory from within his own Mercedes camp, would be head­ing to the fi­nal round of For­mula One’s long­est sea­son with a 16-point lead over Ros­berg. Fifth in the desert would have been enough for the ti­tle.

“I am happy we are con­tin­u­ing to make his­tory as a team,” Hamil­ton added. “I am happy of how my new me­chan­ics, that were given to me at the be­gin­ning of the year, have gelled so well with me. I am su­per happy with my en­gi­neers, who are the best.

“I am, and I will be proud of my­self, as long as I con­tinue to per­form. What a year. To have nine wins is amaz­ing.”

Ros­berg sur­vived a small spin in Sun­day’s chaotic race at In­ter­la­gos, and ben­e­fited from Red Bull’s pe­cu­liar de­ci­sion to stop Max Ver­stap­pen for the in­ter­me­di­ate tyres, to cross the line in sec­ond place, al­beit 11 sec­onds be­hind Hamil­ton.

At one stage in the race, the Ger­man had fallen more than 25 sec­onds adrift of his Mercedes team­mate in the treach­er­ous con­di­tions.

The un­pre­dictable weather in Sao Paulo was the big­gest threat to Ros­berg’s cham­pi­onship charge. But af­ter emerg­ing un­scathed, and with the ti­tle still in his hands, Ros­berg re­jected the no­tion that he is now past the fi­nal big hur­dle to be­ing crowned cham­pion.

“Abu Dhabi is go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult race week­end like al­ways,” Ros­berg said. “It is al­ways a chal­lenge to do a good job on a race week­end, and noth­ing in F1 is easy, so I don’t see it like that.” – The In­de­pen­dent

– REUTERSPIX

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamil­ton ( 44) leads the pack at the start of the Brazil­ian For­mula One Grand Prix at the Cir­cuit of In­ter­la­gos, Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sun­day.

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