Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Emotions fire but Brazil still tough to crack



Emotions fire but Brazil still tough to crack

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Emotions fire but Brazil still tough to crack

Lewis Hamilton makes an emotional return to the scene of his greatest early-career pain and joy this weekend when he leads Mercedes’ bid to seal a fifth consecutive constructors’ world championship.

The 33-year-old Briton, who secured his fifth drivers’ title in Mexico two weeks ago, missed out on winning the championship in Brazil in his rookie season of 2007, but went back to grab his maiden title in dramatic fashion in 2008.

That triumph, earned with a last-lap pass that lifted him to fifth in teeming rain, has since become an iconic snapshot which confirmed Hamilton’s potential and fired him to multiple-title glory.

Yet as he returns to the demanding Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, in the Interlagos district of Sao Paulo, for the 12th time, he will know he and his team face another major challenge.

In his previous 11 visits, Hamilton has won only once and taken pole only twice – a moderate record for arguably the sport’s fastest qualifying driver.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas has one pole and one podium finish from five starts in the sprawling and tumbling semi-bowl where a packed crowd generates a carnival mood.

Both know, too, that rivals Ferrari, whose record of six teams’ titles from 1999 to 2004 may be under threat, enjoyed a resurgence in Texas and Mexico that saw them out-perform Mercedes, restricting their advantage to 55 points with two races remaining.

“We have a battle on our hands for the constructors’ title and we have lost ground to Ferrari in each of the past race weekends. Even though we had the base performance to do better,” said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

“This is the moment to keep our feet on the ground, focus clearly on the objective and trust in our processes and people to deliver.”

No celebratory T-shirts?

Wolff has consistently rejected all title talk in advance and ignored suggestions the team have come equipped with the now-traditional celebratory tee-shirts for a Sunday night party.

To allow him to drop that guard, Hamilton (pictured, AFP) and Bottas must out-score Ferrari’s pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen by 13 points, but this season has seen them achieve that only twice so far in 19 attempts.

Much therefore will depend upon the level of motivation that drives Hamilton in Sunday’s race when he and Bottas, who grabbed pole last year, carry the bonus hopes of the team in their hands.

It is, as four-time champion Alain Prost observed, a tricky moment for the champion even as he seeks his record-increasing 82nd pole and Mercedes’ 100th in F1.

“His motivation was to win the fifth title and now, and for next year, it is a personal feeling about what he wants. It is not a simple thing,” said Prost.

To underline Ferrari’s challenge, Vettel is the driver with the best current record in Brazil with three wins, including last year’s race, and a determination to finish his season on a high.

Red Bull’s aggressive pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who won in Mexico, will also be a serious threat in a race in which heavy rain has often played an influential role.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42