Hamilton changes mind over title chances

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“Obviously that’s that for the championship,” said Lewis Hamilton to reporters moments after he climbed out of his car at Monza.

A frustrating weekend at Monza yielded just ninth place and two points for the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton’s troubles began on Saturday when he went off at Parabolica during qualifying, damaging his car. That gave him one chance to make it into Q3, which was ruined when he caught Adrian Sutil’s Force India at the same corner.

On race day he clearly had a quick car – the Mercedes drivers set the fastest lap times of the race. But an early puncture made for another setback. Hamilton had to pit twice, and although he made it back into the points his attempt to take eighth place off Romain Grosjean on the final lap was lost when he ran wide.

Hamilton initially described his weekend as a “disaster” and conceded that, with seven races to go and Sebastian Vettel 81 points ahead, his championship chances were over.

But later came a change of heart: “When I got out of the car I was angry, and definitely thought that would be it,” he told Reuters.

“But I’ve been back with my engineers and I’m not going to give up. I basically need to win every race, which is the tallest order ever, but I can do nothing but try.”

Even if Hamilton were to win all of the remaining races, third places for Vettel would be sufficient to keep him 11 points ahead of the Mercedes driver.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.