Lewis Hamilton vows to 'keep head down' as he bids for fourth world championship

09 October 2017 04:54

Lewis Hamilton intends to go flat out for his fourth world championship rather than ease off and stumble over the line.

The Mercedes driver won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday to move 59 points clear of nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel - who retired for the second time in three races.

Hamilton can now secure the championship if he wins the US Grand Prix and Vettel finishes sixth or lower - while second would be enough for the Briton if Vettel is ninth.

The Red Bull of Max Verstappen finished a close second with his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium, but it was all about Hamilton at Suzuka.

In a season where he surpassed Michael Schumacher's pole position record - this was his 71st time starting first - Hamilton can move onto four world titles.

But he does not want to simply inch across the line and insists there will be no let-up in performance.

"There is still a long way to go, 100 points is a lot of points and anything can happen. I just need to keep my head down," he said.

"To be honest there is not really any need to change my approach.

"I just don't think there is a need to make any changes. I'm not taking crazy risks to be in the position I'm in.

"We will continue to try and keep doing what we are doing, there isn't much more I can do, sometimes when you come off the gas a little you cause yourself more trouble than you need."

Vettel's race was ruined by a spark plug failure that was identified as his Ferrari was fired up on Sunday morning and, despite taking the start from second on the grid, it was soon evident it would prove his undoing.

He was passed by Verstappen, Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas in the first lap and was called in to retire on lap five.

That follows an engine issue a week ago in Malaysia which saw him start from the back of the grid and recover to fourth, and a first-corner crash in Singapore that left both Ferraris out of the race.

Despite those issues, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene defended the team and insists they will not give in until Vettel is mathematically out of the title picture.

"Everybody saw what happened so give me the answer," he said when asked how he explained recent events.

"Did you see any mistake done by the team? The championship is not over. We will fight until the last race. The last lap. The last turn. That is what I can guarantee."

Source: PA