Verstappen, Vettel and Hamilton within 0.1s in Brazil

Tanya Simon
November 10, 2018

Bottas was consigned to a support role for Hamilton in the 2018 title race run-in, and was ordered to let the eventual champion through when he was on course for a first win of the season in the Russian Grand Prix.

Brazil and the United Arab Emirates are the final two races of the season, the latter coming on November 25, eight months after the curtain-raiser in Melbourne.

But Hamilton, who this weekend begins his title victory parade in Brazil and is, quite comfortably, F1's most marketable star, said: "I am not going to be here if it gets to 25 races, that's for sure".

The 2019 schedule also has 21 races but will run from mid-March to early December, while owner Liberty Media is keen to add further grands prix.

'The seasons are getting longer, and the off-time is getting shorter, so from a competitor's point of view the turnaround is short. "I want to win".

While the drivers' title crown has now been wrapped up by Hamilton, his season is by no means over, with Mercedes still fighting for the constructors' championship - and they know a fifth successive double championship will be celebrated in Brackley if chief rivals Ferrari fail to outscore them by 13 points at Interlagos.

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The Finn, who has yet to win this year, gave up nearly certain victory to Hamilton at the Russian Grand Prix under team orders but Hamilton was insistent that Mercedes would not use them in Bottas's favour in Brazil. "That's very hard. Then you have to find a way of switching off and recovering at the same time".

"You start preparing for next year as soon as the season is done, so getting your mind tuned is very hard". So, given Mercedes are guaranteed to win more races than Ferrari then the Silver Arrows need just 31 points to secure the title. "Even though we had the base performance to do better", said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

Despite ruling out Red Bull's chances of victory on Thursday, Mexican Grand Prix victor Verstappen led the way on a 1m09.011s as he continued his run of impressive form having topped all three practice sessions at the last race.

"The team are not going to make that call", Hamilton said ahead of the Brazilian GP.

Mercedes can join Ferrari in becoming just the second team in F1 history to win a fifth constructors' championship in a row. "This [the Constructors' Championship] is the most important thing".

"That's what we're trying to do... and we'll see in two races' time".

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