Hamilton realises revival may be too late

Given that Hamilton will have to take a grid penalty in at least one of the next two races - most likely in Italy on September 4 - for exceeding his limit of five engines, the lead is precarious. Picture: Andre Pichett/ EPA
Given that Hamilton will have to take a grid penalty in at least one of the next two races – most likely in Italy on September 4 – for exceeding his limit of five engines, the lead is precarious. Picture: Andre Pichett/ EPA

Lewis Hamilton accepts that his victory in Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix may have come too late for him to keep his champion’s crown.

In the aftermath of a tumultuous race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the defending three-time champion acknowledged that his resurgence might not be enough to stop Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg cruising to a maiden drivers’ title.

“It’s a shame that these results are coming so late in the season for me,” Hamilton said after a near-flawless drive to victory ahead of Rosberg.

“It is possibly too late. “You can look back and say that maybe if Malaysia didn’t happen then I’d be in a different position right now.”

Hamilton was left pointless in Malaysia on October 2 when a near-certain victory was taken from him by an engine failure.

If he had won the race, he would be leading the championship.

“I am fighting now for something that I don’t know I would be able to make. “It is an unusual scenario to be in, but I have got to push all the way to the end. One way, it can be painful – and one way, it can be a great thing.”

“But all I know, from the beginning of my career in Formula One, is that right until the last minute it can change. So that is why I can’t give up.”

Rosberg, who has a lead of 19 points with two races remaining, knows he will be champion if he can win in Brazil on November 13.

Hamilton, who drew level with four-time champion Frenchman Alain Prost in the record books with his 51st win, has never won at Interlagos.

He knows this and knows, too, that even if he can win there and also in Abu Dhabi on November 27, it may not be enough if Rosberg finishes second and third in those races.

Rosberg said after having struggled to find form in Mexico: “It is cool for me to be in this situation, but I am not going to change my approach.”

“There are still two races to go and anything can happen in this sport. I am comfortable working my own way, one race at a time, so I am staying that way as it feels the best.”

Long after the post-race farce in Mexico, where Max Verstappen finished third on track for Red Bull, only for Sebastian Vettel to stand on the podium for Ferrari before Daniel Ricciardo was classified third in the final result, due to penalties, the stewards explained why Hamilton was not punished for running off and rejoining at the first corner.

Telemetry taken from his Mercedes showed that Hamilton had backed off significantly after the incident and gained no lasting advantage, according to the stewards.

In the aftermath of the race, team boss Toto Wolff revealed that Mercedes came close to dashing Hamilton’s slim title hopes after vibration caused by a flat-spotted tyre seconds after the start almost made the team call the driver in for an immediate pit stop.

Wolff said that it had been touch and go, especially as there were safety worries. In the end, they decided to hang on for a tyre change on lap 17 and that proved the right decision for Hamilton.

Woolf said that for once luck was on Hamilton’s side.

 

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