Formula One: Lewis Hamilton to put hammer down in Japan

Clockwise from far left: This supporter of former F1 driver Robert Kubica, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso is clearly no fair-weather fan. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton does not sign out when a Sebastian Vettel fan asks for hi
This supporter of former F1 driver Robert Kubica, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso is clearly no fair-weather fan. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE
Clockwise from far left: This supporter of former F1 driver Robert Kubica, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso is clearly no fair-weather fan. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton does not sign out when a Sebastian Vettel fan asks for hi
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton does not sign out when a Sebastian Vettel fan asks for his autograph.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE
Clockwise from far left: This supporter of former F1 driver Robert Kubica, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso is clearly no fair-weather fan. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton does not sign out when a Sebastian Vettel fan asks for hi
Just days after Vettel collided with Lance Stroll's Williams on the Sepang warm-down lap, a young fan in Japan rubs his nose in it. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE
Clockwise from far left: This supporter of former F1 driver Robert Kubica, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso is clearly no fair-weather fan. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton does not sign out when a Sebastian Vettel fan asks for hi
Putting the cart before the Prancing Horse and transporting a one-year-old looks like a wheely good idea.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE

Stubborn Hamilton aims to win world title 'convincingly' but expects strong resistance

SUZUKA (Japan) • Lewis Hamilton has promised to hit back in Japan this weekend following frustration in Malaysia as he looks to close in on a fourth Formula One world title.

The Briton had a three-race winning streak snapped by Red Bull's Max Verstappen last weekend in Sepang but still finished second, extending his championship lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to 34 points with five races left.

But Hamilton, who slammed the performance of his Mercedes after squandering pole position, insisted yesterday that he wanted to win the title in style and not crawl over the line.

"I want to win this thing," the 32-year-old said. "I know I might have the nail in a little bit but I need to keep hammering it. It's not done until there's nowhere left to push it basically."

He has won seven of the 15 races this year.

"In my mind I need to win every race from now on, it's clear," he added. "I'm not here to finish second in every race to do the job - I want to win convincingly."

He backed Mercedes to deliver in the cooler conditions in Japan but warned there could still be a twist in the title run-in.

"I'm under no illusion, I'm still hunting for (the title), I'm not defending it," he said.

"Until I've actually got it sewn up, you've got to keep pushing. There are so many points available and you've seen in other years how the pendulum can swing.

"I'm just hoping if it starts to swing the other way, we have enough force to push it back to where it should be."

Mercedes dodged a bullet in Malaysia as Vettel finished fourth after starting from the back of the grid, while Kimi Raikkonen suffered a calamitous engine failure that knocked him out of the race.

But the pace shown by Ferrari - as well as the Red Bulls - was not lost on Hamilton, whose Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fifth.

"The Ferraris did bring quite a big upgrade," said the three-time winner in Japan.

"Obviously with Sebastian having a penalty, you saw him come through but you didn't get to see him unleash that at the front.

"Also the Red Bull is coming back up, so I just hope we have the strength to be able to fight back. But what I do know is this car can win more races and I plan to see that happen."

Reminded that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called the car a "bit of a diva" earlier this year, Hamilton likened it to his own often prickly character.

"I think it's stubborn," he said. "But that's cool because I'm stubborn.

"Me and the car have lots in common - it's got great potential but doesn't always want to do what you tell it to.

"I think the team find that with me maybe. But if the car was perfect every weekend, it would be boring."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

F1 JAPANESE GP
Practice 1 & 2: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 8.55am & 12.55pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Lewis to put the hammer down'. Print Edition | Subscribe