Lewis Hamilton closes on Rosberg after classic Brazil F1 win
British driver's triumph at a rain-soaked Interlagos serves to emphasise the gulf in class between the two Mercedes drivers
The battle for the Formula 1 crown will go down to the final race of the season after Lewis Hamilton kept up the pressure on team-mate Nico Rosberg with a superb drive at a rain-soaked Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo.
In a race that featured several crashes, plenty of close shaves and five safety cars, and was twice stopped because of the filthy conditions, Hamilton showed his class to win.
His victory means he will go to Abu Dhabi 12 points behind his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg and with an outside chance of winning the title.
"Rosberg will start that race as a strong favourite to become world champion," says Andrew Benson of the BBC. "But a chaotic, crash-strewn race at a treacherously wet Interlagos emphasised the gulf between the two men.
"When Hamilton gets over the immediate euphoria of finally winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, where his childhood hero Ayrton Senna was held as some sort of demigod by the local populace, he may curse the fact that the crazy race he needed finally arrived but Rosberg managed to negotiate his way through it."
While he is some way behind Rosberg, it is clear Hamilton has "the momentum and determination to pull off one of the most extraordinary comebacks in the history of the sport", says Kevin Eason of The Times.
This was his third straight victory – the 52nd of his career, taking him one clear of Alain Prost in second place on the all-time list. Indeed Hamilton is bearing down on Rosberg with "remorseless intensity" says Oliver Brown in the Daily Telegraph.
"While all manner of mayhem unfolded in his rear-view mirrors, from Kimi Raikkonen crashing on the home straight to young Max Verstappen fashioning one outrageous overtake after another, Hamilton was as blinkered as he was serene," says Brown.
And it sets up "a memorable final duel" in the Abu Dhabi desert.
But how has it come to this? "It is a wonder, on this evidence, that Hamilton does not have the battle with Rosberg wrapped up by now," says Brown. "Quite simply, he is a far more versatile and adaptable driver than his team-mate, with at least an extra tenth or two of speed per lap, and it is largely reliability problems that have prevented him from streaking into the sunset."