Ros­berg can claim 1st F1 sea­son ti­tle with vic­tory in Brazil

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Wade

With a third straight Brazil­ian Grand Prix ti­tle on Sun­day, Nico Ros­berg can match the feat of his fa­mous fa­ther by win­ning the Formula One cham­pi­onship.

Stand­ing in his way is Mercedes team­mate Lewis Hamilton, the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion.

If Hamilton wins on the hilly course in Sao Paulo, the sea­son ti­tle will be de­cided in the fi­nal race in two weeks in Abu Dhabi.

“I love the track,” Ros­berg said Thurs­day, 34 years after his fa­ther Keke Ros­berg won his only F1 sea­son ti­tle. “It feels good and I’ve al­ways gone well here.”

Then, the German driver of­fered a cau­tion.

“At the same time, this year we all start from zero,” Ros­berg said. “Those past wins are not go­ing to help me get a win this week­end. We all start from the same place.”

Be­yond the vic­tory, there are sev­eral sce­nar­ios un­der which Ros­berg could claim the sea­son ti­tle, even if he doesn’t win the race. That de­pends on how far be­hind him Hamilton fin­ishes.

Hamilton, who trails Ros­berg by 19 points, can keep the ti­tle chase alive in Brazil but he can only claim the cham­pi­onship — it would be his fourth — in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s a real chal­lenge to come here and try to win for the first time,” Hamilton said. “So that’s my goal, and there’s noth­ing re­ally to lose.”

The two can ex­pect lit­tle quar­ter. They should also ex­pect a wet track with week­end rain in the fore­cast.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, third in the sea­son stand­ings but with­out a chance for the big prize, said he would “not stay out of the fight.”

“I think the cham­pi­onship will work out how it should work out,” Ric­cia­rdo said. “I don’t think we should as­sist in the out­come. Just be­cause they (Ros­berg and Hamilton) are fight­ing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to over­take if’s there’s a door open.”

Fer­rari driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who won four straight sea­son ti­tles be­tween 2010-13, said oth­ers needed to “re­spect the fact” that the two Mercedes driv­ers have had the best sea­sons. He, how­ever, did not say he would back off.

Sun­day also marks the last race in Brazil for Felipe Massa, who is leav­ing F1 after this sea­son. Massa never won a sea­son ti­tle, but he got painfully close.

In Brazil in the fi­nal race of the 2008 sea­son, Massa won the race but lost the sea­son ti­tle by one point to Hamilton when the English­man over­took on the fi­nal lap to fin­ish fifth — get­ting the point he needed to edge Massa.

“I think it will be a very spe­cial week­end for me, for my last home race — a place where I grew up,” Massa said. “This is a place where I re­mem­ber I was in the grand­stand watch­ing and sup­port­ing Ayr­ton Senna and Nelson Pi­quet.” Don­ald Trump be­came the U.S. pres­i­dent-elect.

The brand Hawk­ers wrote on Twit­ter that Mex­i­cans should “put on the glasses so they can’t see those cry­ing eyes” if a wall is built be­tween Mex­ico and the United States, which Trump has pledged to do.

Perez, speak­ing on Thurs­day at the Brazil­ian Grand Prix, says, “I didn’t find it funny at all. It has noth­ing to do with the brand. Un­for­tu­nately, I have de­cided not to stay with them be­cause of those com­ments. I would never let any­one make fun of my coun­try.”

NELSON AN­TOINE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes a selfie with Red Bull driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo left, Fer­rari driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, Red Bull driver Max Ver­stap­pen, right, and Wil­liams driver Felipe Massa, bot­tom right, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thurs­day. Brazil will stage the Formula One Grand Prix’s penul­ti­mate race of the sea­son on Sun­day.

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