Lewis Hamil­ton says bat­tle for ti­tle will con­tinue

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Lewis Hamil­ton got the vic­tory he needed to keep his Formula One cham­pi­onship hopes alive. Now he needs more, and he needs Mercedes team­mate and ri­val Nico Ros­berg to make a mis­take or have a bad race.

Hamil­ton won his fourth US Grand Prix in five years on Sun­day, bolt­ing from pole po­si­tion and cruis­ing to an easy vic­tory that cut Ros­berg’s lead to 26 points with three races left.

“Yee­haw!” Hamil­ton roared over his car ra­dio as he rounded the fi­nal turn for the check­ered flag on his 50th ca­reer vic­tory. “The bat­tle will con­tinue. I’ll be go­ing for it.”

Vic­to­ries won’t be enough for the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion to keep his ti­tle. Ros­berg still holds a rel­a­tively com­fort­able lead head­ing to next week’s race in Mex­ico City where he won last year. Two sec­onds and a third in the fi­nal three races will be enough for Ros­berg to earn his first sea­son ti­tle and match his fa­ther Keke Ros­berg’s 1982 cham­pi­onship.

Ros­berg is keenly aware that he con­trols his des­tiny. Un­like last sea­son, when ten­sions boiled over in the post-race cool down room and Ros­berg tossed a podium cap at Hamil­ton’s face, the Ger­man was all smiles Sun­day as Hamil­ton cel­e­brated his win.

Ros­berg shrugged off any sug­ges­tion he has lost any mo­men­tum. The Mercedes duel now heads into a stretch of races Ros­berg dom­i­nated last sea­son when he reeled of vic­to­ries in Mex­ico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. He’s failed to fin­ish only one race this sea­son and has only four oth­ers that didn’t end on the podium.

“It’s a pity it didn’t work out for a win in the US”, Ros­berg said.

Ros­berg in­sists he won’t set­tle for the safety of sec­ond place and will push for wins over the fi­nal stretch. He made a late charge over the fi­nal 10 laps to shave nearly five sec­onds off Hamil­ton’s lead, but never threat­ened to over­take him for the win.

Hamil­ton ef­fec­tively won the race - and Ros­berg lost it - on the first turn.

Hamil­ton had been plagued by poor starts all sea­son and had won only three of his pre­vi­ous eight races from pole po­si­tion this sea­son. He fi­nally got the jump he needed with a burst off the line he’d been miss­ing.

“It worked per­fect,” Hamil­ton said.

Hamil­ton bolted into the 110foot, el­e­vated left turn that whiplashes the cars back down­hill. He was first to the cor­ner, held po­si­tion and was off and run­ning. Ros­berg was pushed into third when Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo cut un­der his in­side and edged him out at the top of the turn. Ric­cia­rdo fin­ished third for his sec­ond US Grand Prix podium in three years.

“I was look­ing good but strug­gled for grip around the cor­ner,” Ros­berg said. “I lost out a bit at the start but gave ev­ery­thing to come back. I was go­ing for it flat out till the end.”

Once com­fort­ably in the lead, all Hamil­ton had to do was hope he didn’t run into sim­i­lar prob­lems two races ear­lier in Malaysia, where he was cruis­ing to­ward vic­tory be­fore an en­gine fail­ure knocked him out of the race late.

“I was con­cerned the whole race the car wasn’t go­ing to make it ... right up to the line,” Hamil­ton said.

Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel fin­ished fourth. The Haas F1 team’s Ro­main Gros­jean fin­ished 10th, earn­ing the rookie Amer­i­can-led team a point in its debut ap­pear­ance in its home race.

Red Bull’s Dutch teenager Max Ver­stap­pen had a wild race that ended with a gear box prob­lem on lap 32. Af­ter an ag­gres­sive start on su­per-soft tires when he was press­ing Ros­berg early, Ver­stap­pen’s garage warned the 19year-old, “just make sure you can fin­ish.”

“I’m not here to fin­ish fourth!” Ver­stap­pen snapped back. He later came in for a pit stop when his team wasn’t ready, telling them he mis­tak­enly heard an or­der on the ra­dio.

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