SINGAPORE, Singapore, Sep 19 – Lewis Hamilton insisted he could overhaul Nico Rosberg in the Formula One world championship for the second time this year after relinquishing his hard-won lead in the standings in Singapore.
Hamilton fought back from 43 points behind earlier in the season to establish a 19-point lead — only for his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg to clinch his third straight win on Sunday to go eight points clear.
Rosberg won qualifying by more than half-a-second from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Hamilton back in third, and the German then led wire-to-wire for his eighth victory in 15 races this season.
Despite Rosberg’s increasingly impressive form, Hamilton, gunning for his third straight world title and fourth overall, said “with a good weekend” in each of the last six races he could again recover the deficit.
With a sizeable chunk of the record, 21-race season still to go, starting in neighbouring Malaysia in two weeks, Hamilton said he would take the positives from a difficult weekend fraught with mechanical issues.
“This weekend has just been a bit of a tricky one for me, but I’m still glad I could get back up on the podium and get some points for the team,” said Hamilton, who finished third.
The Briton took solace from the fact that Mercedes have the best car, and also that the topsy-turvy season had taught him eight points was not much of a lead.
“We have a good car. We’ve got to have a good weekend,” said Hamilton, who lost half his Friday practice running with a hydraulic failure that limited his ability to fine-tune the car’s set-up.
“We’ve come from 43 points down, so theoretically eight points isn’t anywhere near as steep as that, but still Nico’s been performing fantastically well,” added Hamilton.
“This weekend, he’s done an amazing job. I expect him to continue like that so I’ve got make sure that I do the same.”
– Late surge –
Brake problems early in the race enabled Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to get past into third place as Hamilton locked up under pressure.
But Hamilton started to gain pace near the end as the problem eased and he regained the podium by undercutting Raikkonen during the final pit stops.
“It was mostly because the car was getting lighter,” Hamilton explained of his late surge.
“The brakes became a lot easier to control. Once my signal of brake overheating reduced, I was able to start to pick up the pace.”
Hamilton complained the problem of overheating brakes, also suffered by Rosberg, was hampering drivers — and it would get worse with heavier cars to be introduced next year.
“I guess the thing that pops to mind is how much worse it’s going to be next year when we’ve got a heavier car,” he said.
“It’s a shame the cars are as heavy as they are because we can’t push, you can’t race very well when you’re behind people here. But that’s maybe just the circumstances of this race.”