Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are now only three points apart in the 2014 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship after the Briton took his seventh win of the season in Singapore after the German was forced into an early retirement. Both Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS drivers will be hoping to have a reliable Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at Suzuka as the battle for the championship heats up still further.
Hamilton had a near-perfect weekend in Singapore, taking the pole, the win and the championship lead away from Rosberg, and felt the car was fantastic the whole way through. He was disappointed to see his team-mate struggle as he did, and hopes that he and Rosberg can fight for the title on track rather than have the championship decided by reliability issues.
“Singapore was a good weekend for me,” said Hamilton. “It’s the first time in quite a few races that I’ve not had to fight through the pack to get a result which made life a lot easier. In the final stint, I had to clear Sebastian quickly after making the extra stop. But the car just felt fantastic and I could push whenever I needed to throughout the race.
“Of course, it was disappointing for the team to have another retirement but I know they have made this a priority moving forwards. It’s levelled things up in the Drivers’ Championship, so hopefully we’ll now have a straight battle right to the flag in Abu Dhabi.”
Looking ahead to an event he has never won, Hamilton hopes to change that statistic and hopes to further pull ahead in the championship on a track he reveres having watched his idol Ayrton Senna’s battles with his then-nemesis Alain Prost in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.
“Suzuka is one of the races on the calendar that drivers love the most – and arguably one of the greatest tracks in the world,” believes Hamilton. “There’s so much history and there have been so many defining moments there – like those unforgettable battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. I’ve never won at this circuit and have only made the podium once, on my first visit way back in 2009. I’ve had a couple of chances and last season was probably the best of those.
“This year, though, we have an exceptional car and I’m really hoping I’ll finally have my shot at the top step. All the greats of Formula One have won at Suzuka since the sport first came there in the 1980s and I’m determined to add my name to that list this weekend.”
Team-mate Rosberg had a nightmare Singapore Grand Prix after a freak failure in the electronics caused by a servicing substance short-circuiting steering column electrics. He was bitterly disappointed to lose the championship lead after failing to get off the line at the start of the formation lap after qualifying on the front row.
“I said at the time that Sunday in Singapore was probably the toughest moment of my year so far and, looking back on it, I still think that is true,” said Rosberg. “To have the chance for a top result basically taken away before you even reach the grid is hard to swallow and, of course, it was a lot of points lost in the Championship battle.
“I can’t fault the effort of the team, though. I go to the factory and I see how hard everyone is working, so it’s clear that they want the results just as much as us drivers do. I have faith in my colleagues to improve our reliability and I know they will get it right.”
Looking ahead to Japan, Rosberg feels it is one of the best tracks in the world, and is hopeful to get back on track after his Singapore nightmare.
“Next up we have the Japanese Grand Prix – which really is one of the special races in motorsport,” insists Rosberg. “There’s so much history at this race – especially at Suzuka. It’s definitely one of the best tracks in the world. The fans, too, are just unbelievable. They go absolutely crazy for Formula One and it’s so nice to see their enthusiasm for the sport. They show us so much support – the teams and all of us drivers individually – so we all really enjoy going there and seeing them all.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend – particularly with the car we have at the moment which should give us a good chance to get a great result.”