Fer­rari still seek ‘the big­ger prize’


The Nation - - SPORT -

KIMI RAIKKO­NEN has con­grat­u­lated Lewis Hamil­ton on his fifth world ti­tle, but warned him that Fer­rari are go­ing all out to stop Mer­cedes com­plet­ing a For­mula One cham­pi­onship dou­ble at this week­end’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

The Sauber-bound Finn con­ceded that Fer­rari are not in a strong po­si­tion – they trail Mer­cedes by 55 points in the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings with just two races to go – but made it clear they would not be giv­ing up.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re not in a good po­si­tion, but we’re still in it and we’ll do our best. We’re try­ing to win,” he said.

Raikko­nen, who fa­mously won the driv­ers’ ti­tle for Fer­rari in Brazil in 2007, said that Hamil­ton de­served to win this year’s crown and rejected the idea that his Fer­rari team­mate Se­bas­tian Vet­tel had lost it through team and in­di­vid­ual er­rors.

“For sure he won it,” he said. “Who­ever has the most points has won it.

“In the end, if you ask 10 peo­ple, they all have dif­fer­ent views how it’s been won or lost.

“It makes no dif­fer­ence. He won it. Fair play and con­grat­u­la­tions to him.”

He added that it was more im­por­tant for the team to suc­ceed in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship.

“There’s a driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship, but if you go to any team they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to say this is more im­por­tant for them, the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship more than the driv­ers.”

Vet­tel bullish about fu­ture

Vet­tel ad­mit­ted he was dis­ap­pointed that Hamil­ton had clinched this year’s driv­ers’ ti­tle in Mex­ico with two races re­main­ing, but said he re­mained mo­ti­vated for the fu­ture, in­clud­ing this week­end.

“Ob­vi­ously, the last race was a tough one to swal­low and prob­a­bly the win­ter will be as well,” said the four-time world cham­pion. “But giv­ing up is not an op­tion.

“Three times now, I have been in a po­si­tion like that with 2017, 2009 and this year. For me, prob­a­bly ‘09 was the worst – and my low­est point.

“You never know what the next year brings so you never know whether you get an­other chance. I have worked very hard for it and I am con­fi­dent it will come, but ul­ti­mately I don’t know.

“You can’t pre­dict. None of those mo­ments were nice.”

Look­ing back on this year, in which his ti­tle chal­lenge faded in the sec­ond half of the sea­son, he said:

“Clearly we missed some­thing and it’s up to us to find a fix for it and make sure it doesn’t hap­pen again.

“I still have a mis­sion here and I still want to win. That hasn’t changed.”

Hamil­ton pays trib­ute to Bot­tas

Hamil­ton, mean­while, paid trib­ute to his team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas and de­scribed their pair­ing as “the great­est” in For­mula One his­tory.

The new five-time cham­pion said the Finn had been fun­da­men­tal to his suc­cesses.

“It’s prob­a­bly the great­est part­ner­ship in terms of re­spect and team­work from driv­ers that I’m sure has ever ex­isted in For­mula One,” he en­thused.

“This year there have def­i­nitely been times when he has been fun­da­men­tal in us win­ning races.”

Hamil­ton and Bot­tas need to score 31 points be­tween them to end Fer­rari’s chal­lenge for the team ti­tle at In­ter­la­gos where they have only a mod­est record.

Hamil­ton has had pole and won once in Brazil and Bot­tas se­cured pole po­si­tion last year.

Af­ter be­ing out-per­formed by a re­vived Fer­rari in Texas and Mex­ico, the Mer­cedes pair will seek to re­gain the ini­tia­tive from ri­vals Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen.

If one driver wins and the other fin­ishes in the top seven, Mer­cedes will tri­umph again, but if the scar­let scud­e­ria can con­tinue re­cent form they have a chance to keep the cham­pi­onship alive into the fi­nal race in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamil­ton ar­rives for prac­tice in Brazil. His Fer­rari ri­vals are warn­ing he won’t get an easy ride on Sun­day.

❛❛ALL THE PLAY­ERS RE­SPECT THAT WAYNE’S CON­TRI­BU­TION DE­SERVES THE BEST POS­SI­BLE SEND-OFF. IT IS A SMALL WAY OF AP­PRE­CI­AT­ING WHAT HE HAS GIVEN TO HIS COUN­TRY.”Eng­land man­ager Gareth South­gate de­fends his de­ci­sion to in­clude the re­tired Wayne Rooney for the friendly in­ter­na­tional against the USA next week.

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