Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK/LETTERS -

SO MANY OF HAMIL­TON ’SR ECENT GRAND prix vic­to­ries with Mercedes have been achieved by tak­ing pole po­si­tion then driv­ing off into the dis­tance, but this sea­son he has had to work harder than ever in the face of Se­bas­tian

Vet­tel’s re­lent­less on­slaught and

Red Bull’s resur­gence.

Hamilto nw on rel­a­tively com­fort­ably in China, Canada, Italy and Sin­ga­pore (after Vet­tel crashed out), and crushed the field in Bri­tain, but had to fight to keep Max Ver­stap­pen at arm’s length to win in Ja­pan, and had t oo ver­take Vet­tel to taste victo ryins pain and the United States.

Hamil­ton’s other win – in Au­gust’s Bel­gian Grand Prix – stands out be­cause he was pres­sured all the way by Vet­tel, and had to use all his tac­ti­cal rac­ing nous to keep the Fer­rari be­hind, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the late-race safety car restart.

De­fen­sive skill is a rel­a­tively un­her­alded weapo nin Hamil­ton’s ar­moury, but he show­cased it bril­liantly by de­lay­ing gun­ning full throt­tle un­til mid­way through E aur ouge, suck­er­ing Vet­tel into fol­low­ing too closely and cre­at­ing just enough ex­tra space on the drag race t ol es Combes to stay ahead.

Spa was a unique Hamil­ton race in that sense, and it was one of the classi­est drives within a large port­fo­lio of classy per­for­mances fro mthew orld cham­pio nin2 017.

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