F1: Hamilton 'petrified' car will fail him
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Hamilton's anxious championship chase
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he was “haunted” by the engine failures which have left his championship chances hanging by a thread, driving every lap of the US Grand Prix “petrified” that his Mercedes might give up on him again.
While Hamilton returned to form in Austin, narrowing the deficit to Nico Rosberg to 26 points, the stress in the cockpit was immense.
The engine blow-up in Malaysia weighed heavily on his mind as he led every lap at the Circuit of the Americas.
Hamilton’s prospects of winning the title are slim with three races to go, but will be dead in the water if his car fails again.
He has instead been left wondering if Rosberg’s car will suffer any problems, realistically his only hope of bagging a fourth championship.
“Every single lap I was thinking something might happen,” the three-time champion said.
“When I get on that back straight I am petrified. I was haunted by Malaysia and dreading that would happen so I am so grateful that it didn’t.”
Asked if he expected Rosberg’s car to fail at some stage after a season of near-perfect reliability, Hamilton said: “So far it has been 100 per cent reliable on his side. But often in seasons there can be 100 per cent reliability on a car. Will that be the case on Nico’s? Only time will tell. I can’t get fixated on that.”
While Hamilton remains full of anxiety, Rosberg continues to shut out any such concerns in an impressive display of self-discipline.
Despite needing just two second places and a third, he insisted winning each race was all that would be on his mind. But Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes motorsport, wondered if Rosberg had been overly cautious in turn one at the Circuit of the Americas, fearing a collision.
He lost second to Daniel Ricciardo but recovered the place later.
“He’s in a difficult position,” Wolff said.
“He needs to look at each weekend at a time. But he needs to make sure he does not fail to finish. You could probably see it in turn one, whether that plays a role.”
Wolff still fears a “volcano” could erupt between his two drivers at any time. One thing the Austrian is certain of is that Hamilton is back on song after a chequered weekend in Japan, where he fell out with the press and lost more ground to Rosberg.
Wolff said the engine failure while leading in Malaysia had caused a hangover which Hamilton only recovered from in Austin.
“Suzuka was very difficult,” Wolff said.
“Coming out of Malaysia, where he lost the win, 25 points gone, and would have caught up in the championship.
It started unfortunately with the press conference and it went into a spiral. He had 10 days to recover and he came back strong.”
Hamilton said: “History has shown lots of ups and downs and changes [in the championship]. There have been times where it is dead certain already, and there have been times where it has flipped. That is exactly why I have got to keep my head down and keep trying to do the job I did this weekend which I seriously believe I can do.”
-The Daily Telegraph·