His hopes were slim, but nonetheless there was still the outside chance that Valtteri Bottas might snatch the2019 title from under his teammate’s nose.
However, despite a run that has seen him score two wins and three other podium finishes in the last six races, not forgetting the fact that he is the first Mercedes driver to take pole since the summer break, it was too little, too late for the Finn.
“This weekend, winning was the only thing I could do to try to maintain the title hopes or delay them,” the Finn told reporters. “I did my part, which feels good. But Lewis was still strong this weekend as he always is.
“Quite mixed feelings really,” he added, “as an individual weekend it was strong. But on the other hand, being best of the rest doesn’t feel good.
“You always need to look at the positives as well. It’s my best season in F1 so far so that’s good. Looking at other positives, I’ve made huge gains in many areas in terms of race pace. But winning the race in this way… Lewis, I’m sure he really wanted to win the title by winning the race. I could stop that. So that feels good,” he smiled.
With Hamilton determined to secure the title with a flourish, the final laps finally saw the pair go head-to-head, but with fresher tyres and grim determination, despite being forced wide at one stage, the Finn finally nailed his teammate.
“I was closing in, there was some traffic ahead, and Lewis had a bit of a mistake into Turn 11, so I could get this first opportunity,” said the Finn. “He covered the inside, I had to take the outside line, I was ahead but he braked very late. I had to run off the track to avoid the collision but it’s fine, because if I was in his position I would have done the same.
“The other opportunity he went a bit wide in Turn 8 or 9 so I could get very close before the back straight. Then it was a bit more straightforward.
“I just look forward to next year,” he smiled, it’s a new opportunity.”
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