Lewis Hamilton stays cool in Mexico City with Briton on the road to his fifth world drivers’ championship
- Lewis Hamilton was in relaxed mood as he exhibits no nerves in Mexico City
- The Mercedes man is shaping up to claim his fifth world drivers’ title on Sunday
- Should he finish in the top seven come the chequered flag, title No 5 is secured
Amid the madness of Mexico City’s sprawl, Lewis Hamilton is in a noticeably contented mood.
Unfailingly polite, thanking reporters for doing their jobs, answering every question thoughtfully, the Briton exhibits no hint of nerves as he closes in on a fifth world drivers’ title.
Hamilton can afford the unforced nonchalance because we know what happens in the last reel long before the credits are due to roll. Finish seventh or above in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix and the championship is his. If Sebastian Vettel fails to win, the same conclusion.
Lewis Hamilton is in relaxed mood in Mexico as he prepares to claim his fifth world drivers’ title
The Briton knows that if he finishes inside the top seven on raceday, he has secured the title
Inside the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with its whistling policemen outside, Hamilton does not anticipate any skulduggery at the first corner. He is a clean driver — it is a mark of him as a champion — and he expects others to ‘Play up! Play up! And play the game!’
‘I don’t think anyone here wants to taint his own history, his own future, by doing something bad,’ said the reigning champion, for whom dirty tactics have always been foreign words.
We will never see his name tainted alongside Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher, wonderful drivers who blotted their reputations by acts of low cunning.
It is not a universally held view but it seemed that Vettel might deliberately have made contact with Hamilton here last year having damaged his own car in a coming together with Max Verstappen. Was it a move perpetrated in desperation, out of a belief that taking his Mercedes rival out offered a possible chance of keeping his own fading title hopes alive?
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made contact with title rival Hamilton at the race in Mexico last year
Hamilton insists he has no concerns of foul play down towards the first corner on raceday
We cannot be sure. It made no difference anyway, because Hamilton went on to take the title, his fourth, that lifted him ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart as the most successful British racer ever.
Hamilton said: ‘Being targeted has never, in my entire career, come into my mind. There is great respect between all the drivers. I haven’t felt any negativity out there. Everyone is here to do a great job.’
His peers’ saintliness will be tested on the long 800-yard drag into the first corner with its potential for high-speed danger. But, other than for an unforeseen calamity, Hamilton will waltz to the title on a track where he has won once and Vettel has never even climbed a podium step. If not, it goes to Brazil and possibly Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton was seventh in practice on Friday afternoon with Vettel fourth, behind three Renault-powered cars led by Verstappen. That order did nothing to diminish the 33-year-old’s justification in already looking beyond title No 5.
‘I waited a long time, six years, to get a second title and I could easily have stayed where I was, at McLaren, and I would be sitting here now with the one title,’ he said.
The Briton is calm and collected in the knowledge he is likely to waltz to title No 5 in Mexico
‘Actually, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here at all, to be honest. It has been an interesting journey with the decisions I have taken at the different crossroads I have encountered, but I am very grateful for the route I have travelled.
‘I feel I’ve got a lot left to do, so I am just going to get on with it.’
As for any strain, Hamilton added: ‘This is not the first time I have ridden the rodeo. I know what I need to do to get into shape to deliver this championship.
‘I choose what I want to put my focus towards, and I don’t allow any negativity in, so I am just on a positive wave. If I were here with one point between me and Seb, I am sure things would be a little bit different, and it would be intense.’
He acknowledged that if he were a kid in Stevenage again watching on TV, he would want the drama to be sustained into the final race. But he added: ‘I am not in that seat now. When you are in the fight and living it, you just want to get it done whenever.’
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