Mercedes Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton said he was in no hurry to win his sixth world championship title after the recently concluded Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Sunday (October 13) was reduced to a two-horse Mercedes race.
In two weeks, the F1 circus moves to Mexico where Hamilton can clinch a third consecutive drivers’ crown if he outscores teammate Valtteri Bottas who won the Japan race.
Though Hamilton enjoys a 64-point lead over Bottas, the Finn is the only driver who can catch Hamilton over the final four races of the campaign.
More likely is that the battle will be concluded at the subsequent race at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
With the Mercedes duo of Bottas and Hamilton finishing first and third respectively at Suzuka, they wrapped up a sixth consecutive constructors’ championship for Mercedes
“I think for me it’s never been a case of always wanting to rush things,” Hamilton told reporters Sunday adding that he expected a tough battle from his teammate over the final few races.
“Valtteri’s driven well all year long, he’s done a great job today and he will most likely do a very, very solid job these next races, so we still have a battle, the fight continues,” he added.
Hamilton is not expecting an easy time in the rarefied high-altitude air of Mexico which should suit Ferrari, who hold an obvious advantage in straight-line speed.
“I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us,” said a downbeat Hamilton, who was quicker on fresher tyres than second-placed Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages at Suzuka but was unable to barge past.
“The last few (races) have been pretty shocking, even though we’ve won the title,” he said, after resurgent Ferrari won in three races out of four up to Japan and outqualified Mercedes comfortably at Suzuka.
“I’m hoping for a better weekend but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights.
“We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure but even if you look at the others, the McLarens are picking up some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls so I think it will be a tricky one.
“I don’t anticipate (the title win) will be Mexico. I think we will be battling for a good few races.” Bottas jumped from third to first with an electric start to win in Japan ahead of Vettel and Hamilton.
With only Bottas now able to overtake Hamilton in the standings, Mercedes clinched an unprecedented sixth successive world championship double of drivers and constructors titles.
Hamilton dedicated the achievement to the team’s former non-executive director Niki Lauda, who died in May.
“It definitely feels a little bit different,” Hamilton said of the three-time Formula One world champion.
“I wouldn’t say as happy as previously because naturally we lost Niki this year and it doesn’t feel the same without him. Every time I walk into the garage I see Niki’s headphones and his cap. I sat and I looked at it today. I think the whole team and the whole of Mercedes will probably dedicate this to Niki. I definitely do,” Hamilton said.
(With inputs from agencies)