Lewis Hamilton taking nothing for granted despite healthy championship lead

Lewis Hamilton has played down the significance of his 40-point championship lead ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, saying his approach to the final six races of the season won’t change.

Hamilton’s victory at the last round in Singapore delivered a crushing blow to the hopes of his title rival Sebastian Vettel and means he is the clear favourite with the end of the season now in sight. Three wins and a podium over the next six races would be enough to secure the title for Hamilton regardless of Vettel’s results, but the Mercedes driver refused to talk up the strength of his position during a press conference in Russia on Thursday.

“I don’t think you ever have one hand on the title,” he said. “I’d prefer have both hands on it and we don’t. It’s the same as the last race when I mentioned just taking it one race at a time.

“There’s still a long way to go, there’s still a lot of points available. Six races is still a lot of races, it’s a long season.

“But we are really just head down, everyone in the team is working incredibly hard to continue to improve the car and we are going to be faced with different challenges as we come to these different races.

“So the job is still exactly the same, the target is still exactly the same and the approach is still exactly the same.”

Hamilton has secured his dominant position in the standings despite having a slower car than Vettel at the majority of races this year.

Asked if that made this season his greatest achievement in F1 to date, he added: “If I was to gauge it, it wouldn’t be necessarily all because of that. It’s just because of the great rapport that is in the team, the great effort that has gone in from every single person.

“The results we have produced, considering we have started weekends on the back foot or slightly behind in performance, yet we have performed better overall. And being that it has been the most challenging year fighting against the toughest competitor in another four-time champion, so the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been.

“The money in the middle of the table is as large as ever and every weekend it’s a gamble and the decisions that you take, the risks that you take versus reward, it’s all these different things.”