I’m still un­der pressure, Lewis Hamil­ton in­sists

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

RIO DE JANEIRO. — Lewis Hamil­ton has in­sisted he is still un­der pressure in the re­main­ing two races of the For­mula One 2018 sea­son, de­spite al­ready win­ning the Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship.

Af­ter surg­ing clear of ti­tle ri­val Se­bas­tian Vettel to se­cure his fifth world cham­pi­onship at round 19 of the 21-race cam­paign, Hamil­ton could be ex­cused for eas­ing off the throt­tle at this week­end’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

But mindful of Mercedes’ de­ter­mi­na­tion to fin­ish the sea­son as con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­ons, and aware that Fer­rari closed the gap to the Sil­ver Ar­rows in both USA and Mex­ico, Hamil­ton is adamant his com­mit­ment will be ab­so­lute.

“The pressure is still the same and I don’t feel any dif­fer­ent,” Hamil­ton said upon ar­riv­ing at In­ter­la­gos. “I want to win.” Mercedes have won a team and driver ti­tle dou­ble in every sea­son since the sport’s hy­brid era be­gan in 2014 and they are odds-on to make it five in a row ei­ther this week or at the sea­son-con­clud­ing Abu Dhabi. Only if Fer­rari outscore Mercedes by 13 points or more in Brazil will the Con­struc­tors’ Cham­pi­onship fight con­tinue to the fi­nal event.

“We still have a job to do,” said Hamil­ton. “This [the Con­struc­tors’ Cham­pi­onship] is the most im­por­tant thing.

“When we speak to the team at the start of the year, this is the num­ber one pri­or­ity. There are over a thou­sand peo­ple who work at the Mercedes fac­tory and this is the ti­tle which means the most to them.”

Hamil­ton has never won a race in a sea­son in which he has al­ready been crowned cham­pion. How­ever, it is a statis­tic which can be over­played - two of Hamil­ton’s four pre­vi­ous cham­pi­onships were se­cured at the fi­nal race. Nev­er­the­less, Hamil­ton’s late-sea­son slumber in 2015 is con­sid­ered in ret­ro­spect to have laid the plat­form for Nico Ros­berg’s 2016 cham­pi­onship tri­umph and last year’s Brazil­ian GP week­end in­cluded the English­man’s last high-pro­file mis­take, a crash in qual­i­fy­ing which re­sulted in him start­ing last.

“I don’t plan on that hap­pen­ing again,” Hamil­ton dead­panned.

Hamil­ton’s quest to sign off in style may though ul­ti­mately de­pend on ma­chin­ery rather than men­tal­ity. Odd to say about the sport’s pre-em­i­nent force, but Mercedes have been cu­ri­ously shaky of late. Af­ter Hamil­ton lost out to a Fer­rari and a Red Bull in Amer­ica, Mercedes suf­fered what their tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor James Al­li­son de­scribed as “quite a whip­ping” in Mex­ico, when their lead driver was flat­tered to have fin­ished in fourth.

Mercedes don’t only have points to make in the Con­struc­tors’ Cham­pi­onship, but a point to prove.

“The last two races have been pretty shock­ing com­pared to our nor­mal stand­ings,” Hamil­ton ac­knowl­edged. “Some of it is still a mystery, some of it we un­der­stand. I hope we can get the car back in the right place.” — Sky Sports.

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