Hamil­ton roars up on Ros­berg’s lead

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOSTER sports@city­press.co.za Lewis HAmil­ton SeEAstiAn Vet­tel DAniel Ric­ciAr4o GER GBR AUS FR RB FR PTS

Only nine points stand be­tween Lewis Hamil­ton and the cham­pi­onship lead, a lead that some – namely Nico Ros­berg – fear will sig­nal the end of the ti­tle race once Hamil­ton gets his nose in front.

At the start of this sea­son, it was all about Ros­berg and his in­cred­i­ble run of form. The Ger­man se­cured the first four race vic­to­ries to romp to a 43-point lead over Hamil­ton. It was, ac­cord­ing to the his­tory books, a feat that should have seen Ros­berg run­ning away with the cham­pi­onship to win his first world ti­tle.

But what the his­tory books did not take into ac­count was Hamil­ton.

Since Mercedes’ point-less Span­ish Grand Prix in May, it has been all Hamil­ton. He ar­rives in Azer­bai­jan for the Euro­pean Grand Prix chas­ing his third win in suc­ces­sion.

The 6km an­ti­clock­wise street cir­cuit, which runs through the cap­i­tal of Baku, has all the char­ac­ter­is­tics that suit the Bri­tish racer. It is a lay­out that driv­ers have to at­tack while be­ing care­ful to stay away from the Tepco bar­ri­ers. A lack of run-off area means mis­takes will be costly.

Fer­rari will be hop­ing Mercedes’ in­tra-team bat­tle will force the team-mates into mis­takes, if risks are needed to take the finest line or a make a dar­ing pass.

The Scud­e­ria will also ben­e­fit from their up­graded turbo down the 2.2km straight – the long­est on the F1 calendar. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel is look­ing to as­sert his claim on best of the rest, while Kimi Räikkö­nen’s ca­reer is on the line. With F1’s silly sea­son in high gear, the Finn must put in a strong show­ing to­day if he wants to prove to Fer­rari he de­serves an­other ex­ten­sion.

Fer­rari will face a tough chal­lenge from Red Bull Rac­ing. The track should play to the strengths of the RB12 and its Re­nault power unit. And with Daniel Ric­cia­rdo still seek­ing his first win of the cam­paign – and his team de­ter­mined to jus­tify his faith in them – ex­pect an all-out at­tack from the Mil­ton Keynes squad.

Street cir­cuits have not been kind to Wil­liams in re­cent years. They have strug­gled with slow cor­ners, so ex­pect them to be locked in a bat­tle with the likes of McLaren, Toro Rosso and Force In­dia.

New­comer Haas will be keen to re­turn to the points. Sauber and Manor, both with­out a point to their name, could ben­e­fit from chaos and close en­coun­ters with the bar­ri­ers fur­ther up the or­der. 5

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11 Kimi RDikkö­nen MAx VerstAppen VAlt­teri Bot­tAs Felipe MAssA Ser­gio Perez DAniil KvyAt

Mercebes

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