Wolff: Both Hamilton and Rosberg would be worthy F1 champions

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would make worthy Formula 1 world champions as they prepare for their title showdown in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

Hamilton leads by 17 points heading to the final race of the year, and is bidding for his second F1 title after winning with McLaren back in 2008.

Rosberg has never been involved in a title fight before, but has enjoyed the best season of his career to give himself a fighting chance of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming world champion.

In a year that has seen Mercedes win its first ever constructors’ championship, Wolff believes that both drivers would be worthy champions, and that the eventual loser should not be too disheartened by the defeat.

“When we look back through the season, each driver has had his share of ups and downs and both have shown great strength of character to recover from setbacks,” Wolff said. “As a team we are fortunate to have such a talented line-up and both are worthy champions in the eyes of everybody behind them at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart.

“Of course, there will be bitter disappointment for one of them and great joy for the other. While it won’t be apparent to them at the time, both have long careers ahead of them and they have proven their credentials for the years to come.

“You only have to look back to such great battles as that of [Niki] Lauda and [Alain] Prost in 1984 to see what can be achieved. This was the last title for Niki, who won that year, and Prost was defeated in that battle.

“But he then went on to win four championships before he retired. A top driver always has the ability to engineer another opportunity and both our boys have proven themselves to be just that: top drivers.”

Wolff said that the onus was now on the team to ensure that no reliability problems or technical issues denied either driver from a fair shot at the title in Abu Dhabi.

“It is now down to us to ensure that this fascinating year concludes in the right way by giving Lewis and Nico a platform to settle the title purely on the track,” Wolff said. “It is fantastic for the sport to have such a finale in what has been one of the great seasons of Formula 1.

“I for one cannot wait to watch the race in Abu Dhabi and I’m sure those at home feel the same. May the best man win!”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.