Hamilton looks to turn tables in Sepang

Nico Rosberg (above) may have won the 2016 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix to take an eight-point lead in the world championship. But Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is not worried because there are still six races to go, starting with the
Nico Rosberg (above) may have won the 2016 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix to take an eight-point lead in the world championship. But Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is not worried because there are still six races to go, starting with the Malaysian GP in two weeks' time.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he could overhaul Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Formula One world championship for the second time this year, after relinquishing his hard-won lead in the standings in Singapore.

He fought back from 43 points behind earlier in the season to build up a 19-point lead - only for Rosberg to clinch his third straight win on Sunday to go eight points clear.

But Hamilton said that, "with a good weekend" in each of the last six races, he could overcome the deficit and win his third straight world title and fourth overall.

With a sizeable chunk of the record 21-race season to go, starting at Malaysia's Sepang in two weeks, he said he would take the positives from a difficult weekend fraught with mechanical issues.

"This weekend has just been a bit of a tricky one for me, but I'm still glad I could get back up on the podium and get some points for the team," he said after finishing third.

The Briton lost half of Friday practice running with a hydraulic failure that limited his ability to fine-tune the car's set-up.

He started third on the grid and was unable to get anywhere near Rosberg once he failed to get past Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo at the first turn and ended up fighting with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for the final podium spot.

Brake problems early in the race caused him to lock up under pressure and allowed Raikkonen to pass him into third place.

But, as the problems eased, he started to gain pace near the end and regained the podium position by getting one back on the Finn during the final pit stops.

"It was mostly because the car was getting lighter," Hamilton said of his late surge. "The brakes became a lot easier to control."

He complained that the problem of overheating brakes, which Rosberg also suffered from, was hampering drivers - and that it would get worse with heavier cars to be introduced next year.

"I guess the thing that pops to mind is how much worse it's going to be next year when we've got a heavier car," he said.

"It's a shame that the cars are as heavy as they are because we can't push.

"You can't race very well when you're behind people here. But that's maybe just the circumstances of this race."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton looks to turn tables in Sepang'. Print Edition | Subscribe