Getty Images

Hamilton calls 59-point lead over Vettel in F1 title race ‘unbelievable’

1 Comment

Lewis Hamilton called his 59-point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship “unbelievable” after taking a big step towards a fourth title in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton entered the Suzuka weekend leading by 34 points, but was given the chance to stretch it out after Vettel was forced to retire early on due to an issue with his Ferrari engine.

Hamilton led the majority of the race at Suzuka en route to his eighth win of the season, fully capitalizing on his rival’s demise.

“The start was OK, although the initial getaway was not spectacularly good, I had a bit of wheel spin. But from then on I had a good start and it was pretty much under control from there,” Hamilton said.

“I was trying to manage the pace and the tires; it was a long way to go, it was the hottest the track had been all weekend, so that was really crucial.

“With the VSC towards the end, I lost a lot of temperatures in the tires and waking them up was not so easy.”

Hamilton was given a late scare when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to move to within a second at the front with two laps to go, but managed to hold on and cross the line 1.2 seconds clear.

“I got stuck behind traffic, I was losing so much time and Max’ car was so big in my mirror. It was very close for a couple laps, but I was able to keep it together,” Hamilton explained.

“It was not an easy walk in the park today, it was a win that I had to work very hard for. Great race by Max, I enjoyed racing him.”

Until four races ago, Hamilton had trailed Vettel in the drivers’ championship, with a dramatic change in fortunes putting him in a position to win the title at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in two weeks’ time.

“It’s almost unbelievable to think we are where we are in the championship. I was excited to race Sebastian today, but he was obviously very unfortunate,” Hamilton said.

“It’s still a long way to go, there are still a hundred points. I’m just going to keep my head down and hopefully will continue to be in a form like this.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Leave a comment

James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”