SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton says there will be no easing off the throttle even if he does not have to win another race after Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix to secure a fourth Formula One title.
The Mercedes driver leads Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 34 points in the overall standings with just five races remaining.
As long as Hamilton leaves Suzuka with an advantage of at least 29 points, with seven points the difference between first and second, he can potentially beat the German to the title without stepping on the top step of the podium again.
“I think for me, the goal is to continue to win races even if I don’t have to win another grand prix through the rest of the year,” said Hamilton. “I think that’s the best way.”
“I’m still hunting for it, I’m not defending it. I’m still chasing that championship.”
“So until that last flag, until I’ve actually got it sewn up, then that’s what you’ve got to keep doing,” said the Briton, who added that he will not be taking any unnecessary risks.
Hamilton lost the title last year despite winning the last four races, with now-retired team-mate Nico Rosberg chalking up the second-places he needed to stay ahead in the standings.
Vettel crashed out on the opening lap in Singapore and finished fourth in Malaysia last weekend after starting last following a power unit problem that sidelined him in qualifying.
Hamilton has been able to capitalize on Vettel’s misfortune, winning in Singapore and finishing second in Malaysia, even though Mercedes were only the third-quickest team on both occasions.
The championship leader said the cooler conditions in Japan should suit his car better than the sweltering heat of Singapore and Malaysia.
But he could not be sure how the car, described as a “diva” by team-boss Toto Wolff, would stack up against Ferrari and a resurgent Red Bull.
“Me and the car I think have lots of things in common — it’s got great potential but doesn’t always want to do what you tell it to do,” he joked.
“There’s constantly something new thrown in the mix that can catch us off guard and that’s the exciting thing about this sport.”
“If the car was perfect every weekend it would be boring.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin and Toby Davis