Hamilton not taking title for granted despite Suzuka win

Japanese Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
© XPB 

Victory for Lewis Hamilton in the Japanese Grand Prix means that the Mercedes driver can now realistically win his fifth world championship in the next race.

With a 67 point lead, Hamilton could claim the title by winning the United States GP in two weeks' time, provided that Sebastian Vettel fails to finish in the top two to prolong the title battle to Mexico.

Despite his dominant position in the standings, the Briton insists that he's still taking nothing for granted.

“Honestly, I am really taking it one step at a time,” Hamilton said after the end of Sunday's race.

“Each week you have a positive weekend and then you go to another Grand Prix and you’re not sure how you’re going to fare, and how you’re going to perform."

That said, hopes are high that Mercedes will find more success at the Circuit of the Americas.

"I think we have gone from strength to strength this year as a team," he said. "Austin is generally a good track for us and I can’t wait to unleash this beast there."

The 'beast' was certainly at its best in Suzuka, with Hamilton leading team mate Valtteri Bottas from lights to flag in an imperious display of the W09's late-season form.

“The whole weekend has been incredibly strong from the team," Hamilton agreed. "It is a great 1-2 for Mercedes and a true showing of the real strength in depth that we have as a team."

Although it has looked like an easy cruise for Hamilton, the team radio revealed that the driver had been anxious about aspects of the car's performance during the race.

However, each time he had been reassured from the Mercedes pit wall: “I asked the team and they said it was okay."

Sure enough, he crossed the line with nearly 13 seconds in hand over the rest of the field, at what is undoubtedly one of his favourite tracks on the calendar.

“This track is the best track in the world. I don’t know why they don’t make tracks like this anymore.

"Every second of the run, it was just great fun. I was able to look after my tyres just the way I wanted and maintain the pace.

“I loved it,” he added. “I have to be very, very happy.

"I have been racing a long long time now but that feels like the first," he continued. "It is really weird, you know, because obviously I have been racing a long long time, but the happiness is as high as always. It is a great feeling.”

As ever, Hamilton was eager to praise the entire Mercedes team for its efforts in successfully getting him to the finish line in such triumphant fashion.

“Really these guys you see here at the track, and the guys back at the factory, they work so hard to create this beast," he said. "I am just so proud and grateful that I have the chance to do what I do in it.

Japanese Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W09 celebrates in parc ferme.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was also delighted with the outcome which puts the Silver Arrows 78 points ahead of their Ferrari rivals in the constructors standings.

But like his driver, Wolff wasn't counting any title chickens just yet.

"We haven't won this year yet," he told Sky Sports F1. "We still have that target to win the driver and constructor championships, that's not done.

"The constructors is still a bit further away than the drivers, and we're pushing like hell. Then we're going to sit down if that is achieved - knock on wood, we shouldn't be saying that! - and define new objectives."

For right now though, Wolff could hardly be happier with the team's form and its performance at Suzuka.

"It was a very good weekend. We started off well where we finished in Sochi, and the drivers just feel good with the car.

"As a driver if you have that confidence and you're able to push it hard within the limits then you feel it, that it's enjoyable to drive. That's what we achieved this weekend.

"We knew that we had a good race in Monza - high speed track - and we had a good one in Singapore, twisty and hot. We thought if we can really prove it in Suzuka then we have really done all kinds of circuits with all kinds of corners. It was a real test for us.

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