Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)



Lewis Hamilton returns to the scene of a memorable triumph in pursuit of a record-equalling third Turkish Grand Prix win this weekend, but wary of more than one threat to his world championsh­ip crown.

Eleven months on from a spectacula­r victory for Mercedes in treacherou­s rainhit conditions that secured him his seventh drivers’ title with three races remaining, the 36-year-old Briton is this year only two points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with seven to go.

That knife-edge advantage offers him little protection and he knows also that he may face a grid penalty if forced to take a fresh power unit, as the Dutchman did two weekends ago in Russia, for a contest likely to be run in similarly wet weather.

Last year’s event was the first at Istanbul Park for nine years and was run on a newly resurfaced and very slippery track that, like Sochi last month, conspired to deliver a high degree of jeopardy and drama.

On both occasions, Hamilton used his experience and racecraft to overcome inauspicio­us circumstan­ces and deliver stunning victories rewarded by drawing level with Michael Schumacher’s title tally and posting an unpreceden­ted 100th F1 triumph. His goals this Sunday will be more prosaic as he seeks to beat Verstappen and protect, or extend, his advantage in their enthrallin­g title scrap and to avoid a third collision between them following their crashes at Silverston­e and Monza.

Verstappen, by contrast, seeks to erase the memory of a dismal race last year when after qualifying on the front row, he spun and flat-spotted his tyres on the way to sixth, his worst finish of the season.

“It wasn’t the best weekend for us, as a team,” he said. “But I think it will be quite different circumstan­ces this year -- the track should be more ‘grippy’ and there will be a lot for us all to learn.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded that it was “possible” that Hamilton would have a new fourth engine of the season and a grid penalty for Sunday’s race, but stressed his squad were in a very positive mood. “Working with Honda has been a pleasure. They are super motivated every single race and super-passionate to deliver the best they can.” After his last-gasp disappoint­ment at Sochi, where he missed out on a maiden victory by staying out on slicks in the rain while leading, Lando Norris will bid to consolidat­e his and Mclaren’s progress with another solid outing at a venue where Ferrari have been the most successful team.

But with rain forecast to arrive for Saturday and Sunday, it is difficult for anyone to make reliable plans or prediction­s.

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