Ferrari still seek ‘the bigger prize’
RAIKKONEN WARNS NEW CHAMPION HAMILTON THAT FERRARI WANT CONSTRUCTORS’ TITLE
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.
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