Lewis Hamilton believes the pressure Mercedes has been able to put on Ferrari in recent races has led its main rival to make mistakes.
Ferrari made strategic errors during the Singapore Grand Prix and again during qualifying for the race in Japan last time out as Hamilton secured victory on both occasions. Currently on a run of four straight wins, Hamilton has led home Mercedes one-twos in each of the last two races and says the way his team is performing can have an impact on Ferrari.
“I think together we can claim credit for applying the pressure,” Hamilton said. “And ultimately maybe that’s what happens in head-to-head battles with top competitors — eventually someone has to (crack). Even though they’re still performing great, one of them can’t always be performing the same.
“It’s the psychological battle — war — that we’re in. I think it’s collectively done from everyone. Everyone’s putting in 100 percent and everyone’s delivered time and time again. I’ve been grateful to have also delivered when the team have delivered.”
In Russia, Hamilton had to overtake Vettel on track and says the direct fights with his fellow four-time world champion are the best indicator of who is handling the pressure of the title race best.
“I love that we have those races and those battles. I wish to have more of them. I’ve always been able to go head to head with the guy you’re competing with, and [to] see who brakes earliest and who falters is always the ultimate challenge, really, of your mental stability under that pressure.
“I always welcome them, and I’m grateful that we’ve had some of those moments, like in the last race — the strategy didn’t work out well but it was actually good for giving me the opportunity to show my abilities at those pressured moments.”
Hamilton will win the drivers’ championship at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix if he outscores Vettel by eight or more points, meaning another Mercedes one-two led by the Briton would be enough to secure the title.