Formula One: Lewis Hamilton on guard with typhoon looming

Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers' standings on 322 points.
Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers' standings on 322 points.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Lewis Hamilton may not be able to clinch a sixth world Formula One title at the typhoon-threatened Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday but knows he can knock out all rivals except Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with victory.

After Japan, there are four races left and a maximum 104 points available, with 25 for a win plus a bonus point for the fastest lap if the driver finishes in the top 10.

Hamilton leads the drivers' standings on 322 points ahead of Bottas (249), Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (215), Red Bull's Max Verstappen (212) and Sebastian Vettel (194) in the other Ferrari.

At Suzuka, the only certainty would be a wild weekend of weather, meaning disrupted practices, chaotic qualifying and a wet race punctuated by safety cars.

Japan's weather bureau said yesterday that Super Typhoon Hagibis was projected to hit Tokyo, some 300km east of Suzuka, on Saturday.

Rain or shine, a podium finish will allow Hamilton to wrap up the title in Mexico on Oct 27. But he insists he is not yet dreaming of his sixth title - a total topped only by Michael Schumacher's seven.

He said: "It's getting harder and harder as the season goes on.We are just trying to take things one race at a time, put one foot in front of the other and not stumble."

Suzuka has the ingredients to be a classic, a circuit renowned for exciting racing with sweeping bends and dramatic elevation changes.

Leclerc will fancy his chances after being denied a potential third win of his first year with Ferrari in Russia after an argument over team orders and a virtual safety car.

"We've been quick in Singapore, we've been quick in Monza and both of them are the complete opposites, so there are no reasons for us to be slow in Japan. But it doesn't mean that we will have an easy life," said the 21-year-old, who won in Italy and Belgium.

A unexpected one-two in Russia means Mercedes, with 571 points, can seal a sixth straight constructors' title if they outscore Ferrari (409) by 14 points.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2019, with the headline 'Hamilton on guard with typhoon looming'. Print Edition | Subscribe