Hamil­ton on pole, Ros­berg along­side in ti­tle race

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Lewis Hamil­ton has the pole for the Brazil­ian Grand Prix, and Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg is along­side with the sea­son driv­ers' ti­tle on the line.

Buckle up. The stage is set for to­day's crit­i­cal show­down, and Ros­berg ex­pects a fran­tic start on the short, hilly - and pos­si­bly wet - course.

"I'm go­ing to try to get Lewis in turn one," Ros­berg said af­ter qual­i­fy­ing yes­ter­day. "That's my plan, but it's not go­ing to be easy. The run to turn one is very short, so that doesn't help of course. But I'll try ev­ery­thing I can."

If three-time world cham­pion Hamil­ton wins the race to­day, the For­mula One ti­tle will be de­cided in the fi­nal race of the sea­son in two weeks in Abu Dhabi.

Hamil­ton has taken the last two poles in Mex­ico and the United States, and went on to win each race.

"This is the best that I could have hoped for," said Hamil­ton, who has never won in Brazil. "This is only my sec­ond pole here. It's on a track that I've strug­gled at so I'm re­ally happy to be up on top."

Ros­berg, who has won the last two races in Brazil, has more av­enues to take his first driv­ers' ti­tle and match the one his fa­ther Keke Ros­berg won 34 years ago.

Ros­berg leads Hamil­ton by 19 points — 349 vs. 330 — and will claim the sea­son cham­pi­onship if he wins, or if he scores at least seven more points than Hamil­ton. Ros­berg can also fin­ish sec­ond in Brazil, and third in Abu Dhabi and still be the cham­pion.

"It was an ex­cit­ing qual­i­fier, for sure — very close — but Lewis was just marginally quicker in the end," Ros­berg said. "Any­way, as we've seen this year, the pole isn't al­ways the guy who wins the race. So I'm still op­ti­mistic for to­mor­row."

Mercedes has 19 of the 20 poles this sea­son, and 17 of the 19 races.

Hamil­ton was 0.102 sec­onds faster than Ros­berg in qual­i­fy­ing, but was nearly over­taken on the fi­nal lap by the charg­ing Ger­man.

The track was dry for qual­i­fy­ing, though rain al­ways threat­ened. The fi­nal prac­tice ear­lier yes­ter­day was run in a light mist, with rain in the fore­cast for to­day.

The hilly Sao Paulo cir­cuit has a history of shock­ing re­sults, par­tic­u­larly when it's wet.

Hamil­ton is con­sid­ered the bet­ter wet-weather driver, but Ros­berg dis­missed that edge.

"What­ever comes, comes," he said. "And we have a great car in any con­di­tion — in dry and wet."

The race will be the last at home for Felipe Massa, the Brazil­ian who is leav­ing F1 af­ter 15 sea­sons. There are also ru­mors swirling that the Brazil­ian race it­self could be on the ropes.

TV view­er­ship is down, Brazil is with­out a top driver, and the coun­try is mired in a deep re­ces­sion with un­em­ploy­ment at over 10 per­cent.

"I'm aware of the bat­tle peo­ple are hav­ing here with the econ­omy," said Hamil­ton, call­ing the Brazil race "part of F1's her­itage."

"I hope it does stay. But I also un­der­stand that it takes a lot of money."

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.