Ros­berg can claim first ti­tle with vic­tory in Brazil

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

With a third straight Brazil­ian Grand Prix ti­tle on Sun­day, Nico Ros­berg can match the feat of his fa­mous fa­ther by win­ning the For­mula One cham­pi­onship. Stand­ing in his way is Mercedes team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton, the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion. If Hamil­ton wins on the hilly course in Sao Paulo, the sea­son ti­tle will be de­cided in the fi­nal race in two weeks in Abu Dhabi. “I love the track,” Ros­berg said yes­ter­day, 34 years af­ter his fa­ther Keke Ros­berg won his only F1 sea­son ti­tle. “It feels good and I’ve al­ways gone well here.” Then, the Ger­man driver of­fered a cau­tion. “At the same time, this year we all start from zero,” Ros­berg said. “Those past wins are not go­ing to help me get a win this week­end. We all start from the same place.” Be­yond the vic­tory, there are sev­eral sce­nar­ios un­der which Ros­berg could claim the sea­son ti­tle, even if he doesn’t win the race. That de­pends on how far be­hind him Hamil­ton fin­ishes. Hamil­ton, who trails Ros­berg by 19 points, can keep the ti­tle chase alive in Brazil but he can only claim the cham­pi­onship - it would be his fourth - in Abu Dhabi. “It’s a real chal­lenge to come here and try to win for the first time,” Hamil­ton said. “So that’s my goal, and there’s noth­ing re­ally to lose.” The two can ex­pect lit­tle quar­ter. They should also ex­pect a wet track with week­end rain in the fore­cast. Red Bull driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, third in the sea­son stand­ings but with­out a chance for the big prize, said he would “not stay out of the fight.” “I think the cham­pi­onship will work out how it should work out,” Ric­cia­rdo said. “I don’t think we should as­sist in the out­come. Just be­cause they (Ros­berg and Hamil­ton) are fight­ing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to over­take there’s a door open.” Fer­rari driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who won four straight sea­son ti­tles be­tween 2010-13, said oth­ers needed to “re­spect the fact” that the two Mercedes driv­ers have had the best sea­sons. He, how­ever, if’s did not say he would back off. Ros­berg said he was ex­pect­ing every­one to give their best. “Of course, you’re not go­ing to take it easy just be­cause one guy is fight­ing for the cham­pi­onship,” Ros­berg said. Sun­day also marks the last race in Brazil for Felipe Massa, who is leav­ing F1 af­ter this sea­son. Massa never won a sea­son ti­tle, but he got painfully close. In Brazil in the fi­nal race of the 2008 sea­son, Massa won the race but lost the sea­son ti­tle by one point to Hamil­ton when the English­man over­took on the fi­nal lap to fin­ish fifth - get­ting the point he needed to edge Massa. “I think it will be a very spe­cial week­end for me, for my last home race - a place where I grew up,” Massa said. “This is a place where I re­mem­ber I was in the grand­stand watch­ing and sup­port­ing Ayr­ton Senna and Nel­son Pi­quet.” Senna and Pi­quet each won three F1 sea­son ti­tles. “There’s no doubt he’s one of the most tal­ented driv­ers on the grid,” Vet­tel said of Massa, who raced for 15 sea­sons. “But apart from that, he’s a great per­son. He’s the kind of guy you look at and you smile - be­cause he’s just smil­ing from the in­side. It’s his week­end.” It will be, ex­cept for Ros­berg and Hamil­ton.

Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg, of Ger­many, ges­tures dur­ing a news con­fer­ence ahead of the For­mula One Brazil­ian Grand Prix Photo: AP

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