Lewis Hamilton has proven his class with his recent run of form that has left him on the verge of the drivers’ championship, says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Sebastian Vettel held a lead of eight points over Hamilton following his victory in the British Grand Prix in July, but the defending champion has won all but one of the races since – finishing second to Vettel in Belgium – to open up a 67-point advantage. He only needs to outscore Vettel by eight points in the United States Grand Prix to secure the title, and Wolff says his current run is proof of the Briton’s quality.
“While we didn’t have the fastest car in the summer, we’ve seen the performance swing in our favor recently; however, it is closer than it looked in recent races,” Wolff said. “Ferrari have a strong car and they will keep on pushing until the very last corner in Abu Dhabi. They have been worthy opponents in the past 17 races and we have no reason to believe that this will change in the next four; just like us, they will fight fiercely for every point and position.
“Two 1-2s in a row also show how well both drivers are performing. With six race victories in the last seven races, Lewis has shown what a class act he is. Both on and off the track he is more complete than ever before, showing commanding performance in the car and challenging the entire team to perform to higher levels at the same time.
“Valtteri [Bottas] had some tough races in the summer, but came back strong in recent weeks. He was competitive in both Sochi and Suzuka and embodied our team spirit. We’re lucky to have this driver line-up and we know can count on them as the season comes to its close.”
Hamilton has won all of the past four races in Austin, but Wolff says that record is no guarantee of success this weekend.
“The battle is far from over, so we approach Austin the same way as every other race: take it one step at a time, focus on our job and make sure we bring performance and reliability to the track,” he said. “The Circuit of the Americas has been a good track for us ever since it was introduced in the F1 calendar, but past results have no impact on the current championship.
“Everyone in the team knows that we cannot take anything for granted, so we will be as diligent as ever, keep our heads down and work hard to get a good result in Texas.”