If he won the Japanese Grand Prix next Sunday, English driver Lewis Hamilton would add a fourth consecutive victory and have the possibility of sealing the title on the subsequent American tour.
The victory in Suzuka, moreover, would serve Hamilton and the Mercedes team to remove the bittersweet taste of what happened last Sunday in Sochi, when the Englishman won the Russian Grand Prix thanks to the German team forcing the Finn Valtteri Bottas to ‘yield’ the victory to your partner.
“It was the strangest day of my career,” said Hamilton, describing the 70th win of his career.
A measure that, despite the controversy unleashed, allows Hamilton to be close to a fifth world title, facing the last five races of the championship with a 50-point advantage (the equivalent of two victories) over the German of Ferrari Sebastian Vettel.
Even Vettel himself described Mercedes ‘decision as “obvious” taking into account the drivers’ world classification.
However, what happened in Sochi reopened the debate on controversial team orders, which are not always well accepted by fans and many expressed their anger through social networks.
Despite criticism, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that he does not regret the decision to let Hamilton win.
“I’d rather go through the bad guy today than the idiot at the end of the season,” said Wolff about the possibility that Hamilton could have lost the title for having allowed to gain points in Russia. “Rationally, it was the right decision,” he added.
What Wolff, the Mercedes team and Hamilton himself are now hoping for is that the Englishman will continue his dominance in Japan, where he has already won four times, to dispel any doubts about who is the best driver on the grid.
“Lewis is hungry, focused and completely determined to win,” the Austrian told reporters.
“It is being great to see the power he has shown in this championship and how he has risen a level since the summer break.”
– ‘Unbeatable society’ –
The dominance of Hamilton and Mercedes could only be broken if the Englishman continues to leave the door open to leave the German team at the end of his contract, in 2020.
“I have given them a lot,” said the Englishman a few days ago in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick.
“Mercedes and Hamilton is practically an unbeatable partnership. I do not know, ask me at the end of 2020, “he answered when asked about his future in the team and in Formula 1.
Meanwhile, Vettel has only one idea in mind: to delay the English title as much as possible. The longer Hamilton takes to be champion, the more likely the German will win.
Like Hamilton, Vettel won four times at the Suzuka track, but he always did so with Red Bull-Renault with which he won all four of his world titles from 2010 to 2013.
This season, the German driver kept the pulse with Hamilton until the German Grand Prix, won by the British and in which the Ferrari driver did not score.
Since then 6 races have been contested, with five victories for Hamilton and only one for Vettel (in Belgium).
The German knows he needs a hit in Japan if he wants to keep the fight open. “He was not a genius in mathematics, but it will be more complicated if we continue to lose points,” he said sarcastically.
Despite everything «I still believe in our possibilities, yes. An abandonment is enough and everything will be seen differently, “he added.
His Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen expects a great reception from his legion of Japanese fans at his last race at Suzuka with Ferrari, a team he will leave at the end of the year to race for the next two seasons with Sauber.
To make it a bit more spicy, Hamilton called it a mistake that he let Raikkonen escape, the last man to give the Maranello brand the title of world champion in 2007.
“He is an extraordinary professional and a fantastic pilot,” he assured. «He is still one of my favorite drivers and I am convinced that Ferrari will lose a very important driver. Has no sense”.
Next debate, on the asphalt of Suzuka. AFP