Lewis Hamilton says his healthy lead of the championship is a reward for not putting himself in some of the problematic positions Sebastian Vettel has found himself in this year.
By winning in Singapore, Hamitlon extended his championship lead to 40 points with six races to run. Ferrari was expected to win at Marina Bay but a below-par qualifying, coupled with one of the best laps of Hamilton’s career, helped the Mercedes drive claim a shock pole position — one he converted to victory on the Sunday. Vettel had also hit the wall during Friday practice, compromising his preparations for the rest of the weekend.
Vettel has made a number of crucial mistakes this season — including crashing out of the lead in Germany and getting spun around in a collision with Hamilton on the first corner in Italy — which have cost him crucial ground in the championship fight. Despite the errors being made by his main rival Hamilton believes he is leading the championship on merit.
“I don’t look at it and think ‘we’ve lucked in’,” Hamilton said. “When Vettel hit the wall the other day, damaged the car and lost running on the track, that’s not us lucking in. I take a lot of pride in not putting myself in those positions.
“I know my team is relying on me just as his team is relying on him. There’s a lot of pressure on us drivers. It’s only small percentages that you get wrong and they have bigger ramifications.
“As a team we honestly don’t waste any time wondering what they’re doing, or if they’re feeling pressure, or if they’re feeling happy or unhappy. There’s nothing we can do about them, all we can do is be the best we can over a weekend.”
If Hamilton finishes ahead of Vettel in Sochi, he could be the champion without claiming a victory in the remaining five races. Despite the fact his championship lead might encourage a more conservative approach Hamilton insists his mindset will not change.
“There is just no need for me to look at the next few races and think ‘OK, I need that there, and that there’. In my mind I need to win every race, simple as that.
“I focus on that and arrive wanting to win. There will be weekends when we know that maybe we’ll be comfortably stronger, and there will be weekends like this where we expect to be behind but we still have that belief that we can win.
“I want to win every race, that’s the goal. I’m just not looking at the points. It’s nice having 40 points, but it’s not the end until it’s mathematically impossible [to lose].”