In Brief

F1: Hamilton vs. Vettel title race ‘far from over’

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff expects Ferrari to keep on pushing

F1 United States Grand Prix

  • When: Sunday 21 October 
  • Where: Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas 
  • Race start time: 7.10pm (UK time)

British driver Lewis Hamilton could secure the 2018 Formula 1 title this weekend but his team boss Toto Wolff has warned Mercedes not to take anything for granted at the United States GP.

Sunday’s race in Austin will see Mercedes star Hamilton crowned champion if he scores eight points more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, his main rival for the title.

This week Wolff praised “class act” Hamilton, saying the 33-year-old four-time title winner was “more complete than ever before”, the BBC reports. But the Mercedes team principal is also keeping his feet on the ground by saying the 2018 title race is “far from over”. 

“The Circuit of the Americas has been a good track for us ever since it was introduced in the F1 calendar,” said Wolff. “But past results have no impact on the current championship.

“Everyone in the team knows that we cannot take anything for granted, so we will be as diligent as ever, keep our heads down and work hard to get a good result in Texas.

“This championship fight has been exhilarating and we can’t wait for the next chapter in the epic battle of silver and red.”

Ferrari are powerful rivals, he says. “Ferrari have a strong car and they will keep on pushing until the very last corner in Abu Dhabi,” he says. “They have been worthy opponents in the past 17 races and we have no reason to believe that this will change in the next four; just like us, they will fight fiercely for every point and position.”

Last year Hamilton finished first in Austin. Vettel came second.

Ferrari ‘struggling’ with title pressure

Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa believes the Italian team would be unable to cope with the pressure of winning the F1 championship.

The last Ferrari driver to win the title was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Ferrari haven’t won the constructors’ championship since 2008.

Due to mistakes in recent races, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has fallen 67 points behind Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings. Massa says the mistakes are a major reason why the 2018 title challenge has derailed.

Speaking to Autosport, the Brazilian said: “We won the championship in 2007, and then after ’08, Ferrari started to have some issues – they never won again. [There is] pressure to win and they are struggling to keep the pressure down... and do their job in an efficient way.”

While he insisted that Ferrari hadn’t lost the championship yet, he said they would be feeling more pressure than Mercedes, who have won over the last four years.

“It makes it much easier to work with a title in your hands, compared to working where you need to win, and the chance to make mistakes is higher,” he said.

The 2018 United States GP starts at 7.10pm (UK time) on Sunday evening and will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4.

F1 standings and races

F1 drivers’ championship (after 17 races)
  • 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 331 points
  • 2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 264 
  • 3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 207 
  • 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 196 
  • 5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 173 
F1 constructors’ championship (after 17 races)
  • 1. Mercedes 538 points
  • 2. Ferrari 460 
  • 3. Red Bull Racing 319 
  • 4. Renault 92 
  • 5. Haas 84 
Remaining races in 2018
  • 21 October: United States Grand Prix, Austin (7.10pm)
  • 28 October: Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City (7.10pm)
  • 11 November: Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo (5.10pm)
  • 25 November: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina (1.10pm)

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