F1: Lewis Hamilton feels for fans as Verstappen heads for early title

Mercedes runner-up Lewis Hamilton (R) and Red Bull Racing's Dutchman Max Verstappen celebrate on the podium with champagne after the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring in Mogyorod near Budapest, Hungary, on July 31, 2022.

FILE – British driver Lewis Hamilton (R) of Mercedes finished second and Dutch driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium with champagne after the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix on July 31, 2022. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)

SINGAPORE — Seventh Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton said he was amused by fans ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix that could see Red Bull’s Max Verstappen win a second consecutive title followed by five backup races.

Last season went down the wire in Abu Dhabi, with Verstappen and Hamilton on points and the Briton leading the race until a late safety car controversy will be talked about for years to come.

Verstappen has won 11/16 races so far and is 116 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Sunday’s race will be his first chance to complete the titleeven though he has to win.

“I certainly feel for the fans,” Mercedes driver Hamilton told reporters, when asked how he feels without a rematch against Verstappen this season.

“For us last year, it was thrilling for everyone and so it’s never great when a season ends early, even if I’ve experienced endings early in places. like Mexico.

“For you as an individual, that’s great.

“But for the actual sport it’s not spectacular…so I’m really grateful that there was 2008, which is only the last 17 seconds, and obviously last year too. Let’s hope in the future that it gets a little better.”

Formula One F1 - Singapore Grand Prix - Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore - September 29, 2022 Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during press conference ahead of Singapore Grand Prix

Formula One F1 – September 29, 2022 Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the press conference ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix REUTERS / Edgar Su

There were only two titles Hamilton won at the last race – in 2008 against McLaren in Brazil, when he made a key pass in the final corner of the final lap, and his first with Mercedes on 2014 in Abu Dhabi.

In 2015, in Austin, the third title came with three backup races, and the fourth in 2017 in Mexico was in 18th place out of 20 laps.

The 2018 crown was also won in Mexico with two remaining, as in Austin in 2019. The 2020 championship comes in Istanbul, in 14th place out of 17 races.

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, champion with six races to spare in 2002, and Nigel Mansell, who won the title with five races remaining in 1992, are the most dominant in the sport’s history. this.

However, there are far more races out there now than there were then, with Schumacher winning the 2002 championship in 11 of 17 races and Mansell after 11 of 16.

This year has a record of 22 rounds and Verstappen will of course surpass the record of most wins in a season.

That record is jointly held by seven-time Schumacher and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who won 13 times in 2004 and 2013, respectively.

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