SAO PAULO (AP) Lewis Hamilton enters the last two Formula One race hoping Mercedes has done enough to solve the reliability issues that hurt them earlier this year.
With a comfortable lead over teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton will be in a good position to clinch his second world championhsip if he can just bring his car home in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday and at the season finale in Abu Dhabi in two weeks.
”We will try to be fast and lead, but we’ll also look after the engine, the gear box, making sure that we bring the car home,” Hamilton said on Thursday. ”You never know what’s going to happen this weekend, and it could make things difficult for the next one, but having had those experiences in the past, I feel more than ever that I’m prepared.”
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Hamilton can secure the title with consecutive second-place finishes or by finishing third in Brazil and second in Abu Dhabi, which will be worth double points.
Mercedes has been dominant all year and already secured the constructors’ title, so if Hamilton can avoid accidents or the mechanical problems that affected the team in parts of the season, he can just coast behind Rosberg and still finish where he needs to to clinch the title.
”The most difficult thing this year, for sure, was dealing with the DNFs and the problems that we had with the car and not finishing the races,” he said. ”We have to turn negatives into positives. That’s how I managed to get myself where I am today. We have to put that positive energy out there and maximize the opportunities.”
Hamilton failed to finish three races this year, and Rosberg didn’t cross the finish line twice.
Another setback for Hamilton in Brazil could turn the title race in Rosberg’s favor again.
”This is not something you think about,” Hamilton said. ”We are going into the last two races with positive energy.”
Hamilton has won 10 races, including the last five. He made it onto the podium every time he crossed the finish line. Mercedes has finished 1-2 in 10 of the 17 races, and the last time one of its drivers retired was at the Singapore GP in September.
”Yes, we’ve had issues, we’ve not been perfect, but we’ve been constantly improving and trying to rectify all the issues,” Hamilton said. ”Some of the issues have been a huge surprise for us. We don’t know what the future holds, but we’ve done quite a good job, particularly in the last five or six races. I’m hopeful.”
Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said the team will do everything possible to make sure both cars make it to the end in both races.
”There will be (no) rest between now and the end of the season as the double points in Abu Dhabi still has the potential to overshadow a great season should reliability become a factor,” he said. ”Our focus is still 100 percent on ensuring that is not the case.”
Although Hamilton clinched his first world title in Brazil in 2008, he hasn’t had a lot of good luck at Interlagos. He failed to finish the race in two of the last three years, and was only ninth a year ago. He has never finished better than third at the track in Sao Paulo.
The British driver said things could be different this time.
”We have a great car, an amazing team, this is the best season I’ve ever had,” he said. ”It’s like I’m going for my first world championship. I’m hungrier than ever.”