Formula One title defeat looms for Ferrari
LEWIS Hamilton was gifted a win at the Russian Grand Prix by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but Formula One title rival Sebastian Vettel is refusing to throw in the towel on the championship.
Whoever the athlete, whatever the sport, there is a near-standard set of comments trotted out when defeat is looming but not yet confirmed.
Vettel and Ferrari were drawing deeply on those words on Sunday, after another disappointing outing at the Russian Grand Prix left his Formula One title hopes hanging by a thread.
“Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there,” he said after finishing third in Sochi,behind the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and beating rival Lewis Hamilton.
“We need to keep pushing and try; who knows what will happen in the next races.”
The Japanese Grand Prix is this Sunday and there is one week off before the double-header of the US and Mexico.
Trailing Hamilton by 50 points with just five races remaining, Vettel no longer has the destiny of the championship in his own hands – even five victories may not be enough.
But on current form, few would consider that a realistic possibility. Winning just once would be a significant start and only some ill-fortune for Hamilton will likely open the door.
“I still believe in our chances; yes, obviously it’s not getting bigger,” Vettel said. “But who knows, it takes one DNF (did not finish) and then all of a sudden things look different – ideally two,” Vettel joked, hastening to add: “Which I’m not wishing on Lewis.”
Hamilton cutasubdued figure despite closing in on his fifth championship, with the manner of his victory weighing heavily on his shoulders.
Team orders sent him ahead of then leader Bottas approaching the halfway point and he struggled to reconcile pragmatism with his racing spirit.
“Usually we’d be elated but I can understand how difficult it was for Valtteri,” he said.
“He did a fantastic job and he deserved to win.”
Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff was understanding, if unrepentant towards the feelings of the Finn.
“There is a harsh reality that you can extend the lead by several points in a championship that has been very tough and very difficult at times,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take it and this is what we did today.”
Vettel – perhaps reflecting on the lack of team orders which cost him at the Italian Grand Prix – was blunter.
“I think in the position they were in it was a no-brainer what they did today, so maybe not all the questions are justified,” he said. That could also be seen as him looking ahead to the next five races and calling for every bit of assistance possible – including from teammate Kimi Raikkonen – to close the gap to Hamilton.
With all Ferrari might throw at him, Hamilton is on “the brink of his fourth championship in five years”, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, while Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper said “only a miracle can help Vettel.” – dpa / African news Agency (ANA)
Third placed German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari at the Russian 2018 Formula One Grand Prix awards ceremony at the Sochi Autodrom circuit in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday.
No love lost between boxers Tyson Fury (left) and Deontay Wilder.