Monday 20 November 2017

Formula One: Hamilton to go for broke after giving up on Vettel chase

Ian Parkes

Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren can throw caution to the wind as the team no longer have anything to lose in this year's Formula One world title race.

Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button have effectively thrown in the towel on their personal hopes of glory, trailing Sebastian Vettel by 62 and 84 points respectively, with only 100 now available.

McLaren have fallen to third in the constructors' championship, 83 points adrift of Red Bull with a potential 172 to aim for after a run which has seen the Woking-based team bring both cars home just twice in the last seven races.

"The gap is not especially easy to close up, but it's not impossible. If Jenson and I were able to deliver the constructors' title, even without a drivers' title, that would be a fantastic way to end the season," said Hamilton.

Remarkably, McLaren have not won the constructors' crown since 1998, and it would be a fitting way for Hamilton to end his career with them.

The 27-year-old will bid a fond farewell to the team at the end of the campaign, joining Mercedes on a three-year, £15m-per-season contract.

Following yesterday's two practice sessions ahead of tomorrow's Indian Grand Prix, it appears Hamilton and Button are steeling themselves to again trail in Vettel's wake.

The two Britons were just under a second off the pace of Vettel, who was quickest in both 90-minute outings at the Buddh International Circuit.

Assessing his hopes for the weekend, Hamilton said: "In qualifying (pace) we aren't quick enough, which I hope is to do with fuel load.

"I'm hoping they were looking to improve their qualifying runs and they were on lighter fuel, if not, then we're in trouble.

"But it should be quite a close race because our race pace is not so bad compared to others.

"But to beat the Red Bulls we need to really try to change something, and gain something with the downforce.

"They are just too quick, and Ferrari are quick. Right now we're only quick enough to be third or fourth."

As for Button, the 32-year-old suffered a gearshift problem on the second lap of his long run, bringing his second session to an early conclusion.

Only Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber could keep pace, the Australian just over a tenth of a second adrift of the leader.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, six points behind Vettel, found himself six-tenths of a second down in third such was the difference between the Red Bulls and the rest.

Meanwhile, Ferrari continued to insist that they were not trying to make a political statement as their decision to carry the flag of the Italian navy on their cars in India this weekend threatened to escalate into a serious diplomatic incident.

Two members of the Italian navy's vessel protection department are awaiting trial following the fatal shootings of two Indian fishermen in February. Political statements are forbidden in Formula One, but Ferrari decided to sport the flags "in the hope that the Indian and Italian authorities will soon find a solution to the situation". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Indian Grand Prix, live,

Tomorrow, Setanta Irl, 9.30am

Irish Independent

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