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Lewis Hamilton stays in fashion for final title push

12:22 pm, 17th September 2018

Hamilton claimed what is being viewed as a potentially seminal Singapore GP victory to increase his championship advantage over Sebastian Vettel to 40 points with six races to go.

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It was a race Mercedes were not expected to win and so the surprise outcome meant it turned in to a deflating weekend for Ferrari, who were outfoxed in qualifying and the race. Vettel finished third, half a minute behind Hamilton.

“We are going from strength to strength as a team, our understanding of the car and how we utilise the tools that we have,” said Hamilton after winning his seventh race of 2018.

“We’re far more comfortable at our job right now than we were. Six races ago we were definitely struggling in this area and still trying to find the little bit of magic.

“But I think we have figured the car out. We know where we are and we know what we’ve got to do to add to it.”

Hamilton added: “We have often outperformed a car that’s slightly better and we’ve outperformed them as a team. We need to keep doing that.”

Hamilton’s form either side of the summer break has been superb – with Sky F1’s Martin Brundle suggesting that the Englishman is “starting to look unbeatable”.

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The Mercedes driver has won four of the last five races, with a second place finish in the other, and turned what had been an eight-point deficit to Vettel into a 40-point lead for himself.

“You should see the energy with everyone,” said Hamilton, fresh from completing Mercedes’ post-race debrief into the early hours of Monday morning.

“For me personally I find it really inspiring. Considering I’ve been with the guys for six years, it could be like ‘jeez, let’s get it over and done with, we’ve won tonnes of races’ but they’re not [like that]. I said ‘have you got any questions for me?’ because I encourage them to ask questions after the debrief and they find questions.

“More than ever the communication has been an additional improvement this year.”

What next for Hamilton?
After a busy and high-profile fortnight in the lead up to Singapore, when he launched his first fashion range in conjunction with Tommy Hilfiger at events in Shanghai and New York, Hamilton said he was looking forward to a more standard build-up to the Russia-Japan double header.

However, once again, the world title fight would remain at the forefront of his thoughts.

“My second half of the season is usually where things come together,” said Hamilton, who has won 58 per cent of races after the mid-season summer breaks since 2014.

“I’ve got work [on Monday] in Thailand with Puma and then I’ve got a few days off. I’m going to be on a beach, probably doing yoga and training hard Tuesday onwards.

“But the focus is intense and has to remain the same. We don’t have to change our approach or anything like that but it’s almost that next step, that extra push, that we are doing together.”

And, while the 33-year-old has long successfully combined his racing career with international travel and events outside of race weekends, he said he still wanted to prove how he had not been distracted by his hectic pre-Singapore schedule.

“I know there were questions at the start of the week as to whether these things outside of Formula 1 are a distraction to me,” Hamilton acknowledged. “I came here, and I thought, ‘jeez, if I put one foot wrong, people are going to point to the things I do as a result of it’.”

He later added: “I’m glad that you have seen this performance this weekend, and also for Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ team boss].

“Toto has been so instrumental in allowing me to bring Tommy along and it’s been a life-changing experience having them as part of the team and having the opportunity to do what I’m doing with them, it’s really amazing and such a blessing.

“I just said to Toto ‘don’t for a second ever let it creep into your mind that I don’t want to win this championship more than anything’. That’s my priority. That won’t change.”

Hamilton not writing Ferrari off
While the championship tide is again beginning to turn against Ferrari and Vettel, Hamilton stressed “there are still a lot of points available” and that Mercedes’ great rivals could not be counted out yet.

“As an athlete, as a team and competitors, you have to stay positive. Hope and belief are the two keys that you always need to make sure you have with you. Even when the going gets tough, that’s what sport and competition are about,” he added.

“I’m sure they will go away from this as a difficult weekend, as we’ve had difficult weekends, and they will come back stronger in the next one. But I can assure you we as a team are not cocky or overly confident, we are being diligent and working as hard as we can. We want to keep hammering away as we are.

“If they have got an answer to that, then we don’t mind that, we want that battle. And if they don’t, we also don’t mind it.”

No driver, with six races left in a season, has failed to covert such a points lead into the world title since the current scoring system was introduced in 2010. Yet Hamilton says he will not be plotting any mathematical routes to the crown over the next two months.

“There is just no need for me to look at the next few races and say ‘okay, I need that there and this there’ – in my mind I need to win every race. As simple as that,” he said.

“I’m just not looking at the points. Of course, that 40 points at this point, it’s nice having that, but it’s not the end.”

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