Lewis Hamilton has admitted he never expected Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to “tail off” in the 2018 Formula 1 world championship battle in the way they have.
Hamilton claimed his fourth victory in a row at the Japanese Grand Prix to put him on the brink of the 2018 crown after Vettel spun early on trying to pass Max Verstappen and finished sixth.Vettel led the title race by eight points back in July but Hamilton has won six of the seven races since then and turned that deficit into a 67-point lead.
Hamilton said: “Up until the mid-part of the season they were very strong.”Then they got to Monza and after that they were still quite strong at Monza and Singapore, then Singapore was really when things started to tail off.
“I definitely hadn’t anticipated that they would tail off as they have. The performances have not been coming as strong as they were before.”I don’t really have an answer for that, it’s not something I’ve really focused on – I’m sure Sebastian could tell why.
“We’ve just been focusing on trying to do the best job we can and maximise the potential of our own ability.”Ferrari appeared to have the edge on Mercedes for pace until Singapore, where Mercedes has traditionally been weak but Hamilton won from pole.
Hamilton made Vettel pay for that Italian GP mistake by going on to win, beginning his current four-race victory streak – which he said Mercedes should be proud of given the way it has overturned Ferrari’s advantage.
“You have to set your sights high,” said Hamilton.
“As we came into the season we set the goal high. We got to mid-season, we had that win going into the break.”We’ve been pushing to make sure we come back even stronger.”That’s what you’re hoping to achieve – it’s not always the case that you do.
“We have, through great hard work from everyone.”