Lewis Hamilton has conceded it is now unlikely he will stop Nico Rosberg from winning the Formula One title after claiming his rival is “doing all he has to do” to get over the finish line and seal his maiden championship.
Hamilton has crushed his Mercedes team-mate at the last three races – including a spectacular display here in the wet in Brazil – to move to within 12 points of his title rival ahead of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi a week on Sunday. But Rosberg needs only to secure a top-three finish under the floodlights to emulate his father Keke, the 1982 world champion, and finally end his long-running losing streak to Hamilton.
Indeed Hamilton, right, whose title defence has been hampered by his car’s poor reliability, could now end the year with more victories and pole positions than Rosberg and still miss out on the title.
“I am happy that I beat everyone, and I am happy that, with the same car as Nico – and Nico is driving at his best right now – he had nothing on me,” Hamilton said. “Nico is doing all he has to do. He has finished every race, not had any problems, whereas I have.
“I am in an awkward position going into the last race. It doesn’t really make a big difference if I go and drive like I do right now because I have already lost so much through the year. I don’t give up because you never know what could happen – it is unlikely, but you never know what could happen.”
Hamilton has encountered a number of reliability issues this season – none more dramatic than at October’s Malaysian Grand Prix, when his engine blew up as he was about to take charge of the championship.
Without that failure, Hamilton, who subsequently hinted at a conspiracy theory from within his own Mercedes camp, would be heading to the final round of F1’s longest season with a 16-point lead over Rosberg.“I am happy we are continuing to make history as a team,” Hamilton added. “I am happy of how my new mechanics, that were given to me at the beginning of the year, have gelled so well with me. I am super happy with my engineers, who are the best.
“I am, and I will be proud of myself, as long as I continue to perform. What a year. To have nine wins is amazing.”
Rosberg survived a small spin in Sunday’s chaotic race at Interlagos, and benefited from Red Bull’s peculiar decision to stop Max Verstappen for the intermediate tyres, to cross the line in second, albeit 11 seconds behind Hamilton. At one stage, the German had fallen more than 25 seconds adrift.