Lewis Hamilton on final straight for 2014 Formula One title

Briton confident he can see off Nico Rosberg’s challenge in US Grand Prix

 Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes  drives during practice ahead of the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas  in Austin, Texas. Photo:  Mark Thompson/Getty

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes drives during practice ahead of the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty

 

Lewis Hamilton hopes he does not run into a brick wall over the closing stages of the Formula One season – after feeling he has clambered over enough to take command of the title race.

With just three grands prix remaining, a second championship is now looming on the horizon for Hamilton following a dramatic about-turn in fortunes for himself and Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg.

Qualifying incidents in Germany and Hungary before the summer break in August put Hamilton on the back foot in his personal battle with Rosberg.

When Hamilton was then hit by Rosberg at the next event in Belgium post holiday, an incident which led to the 29-year-old retiring for the third time this season, he must have felt like it was not going to be his year.

With Rosberg runner-up at Spa, the gap widened to its largest margin of the campaign – 29 points.

Successive wins

Singapore

With Hamilton on a roll, the Briton holds a 17-point cushion going into one of his favourite races of the year in the United States tomorrow.

With nine victories already this season – only Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have won more in a single campaign – Hamilton is confident of keeping the momentum going.

“I don’t see why not,” said Hamilton. “Nico’s obviously going to be strong this weekend, and he’s going to be pushing, but the tables could always turn.

“Nico has shown that this year, every race he bounces back, but I’ve been strong here in the past, and I’m hoping to be very strong here this weekend.

“The last few races I’ve really felt great, amazing. It was almost like there was a wall in front of me and I was trying to climb it but I couldn’t quite get over it.

“But I’ve got over it now and hopefully the remaining races are more like hurdles rather than big tall walls.”

Aside from the championship, a F1 record also is within Hamilton’s grasp as he stands just one victory away from becoming the most successful British driver in the sport’s history in terms of race wins.

Hamilton’s burst of four triumphs has brought him level with 1992 champion Nigel Mansell on 31, although his mindset is elsewhere.

“I don’t really think about that one as much, just because I want to win the championship,” said Hamilton. Maybe at the end of the year I will be able to look back and really think about it, but I want to win the world championship more than having that record. That’s the most important thing for me.”

Strong chance

Abu Dhabi

When it was suggested to Rosberg that the gloves were now off between himself and Hamilton, with Mercedes having wrapped up the constructors’ championship three weeks ago in Russia, the 29-year-old said: “It’s been full attack all the time. Of course, it does change it a little bit now the constructors’ is done, yes, because there is always a fine line finding a compromise between the team and myself.”

CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER Lewis Hamilton laid down a marker yesterday after leading title rival team mate Nico Rosberg in a familiar Mercedes one-two in first practice for the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix.

The Briton, chasing his fifth win in a row and 10th of the season, lapped with a best time of one minute 39.941 seconds on a gusty morning at the undulating Circuit of the Americas. Rosberg was 0.292 seconds slower than the 2008 world champion with McLaren’s Jenson Button third fastest in a session of 18 cars.

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