Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lewis seeks Japan boost after Sochi rumpus

Lewis seeks Japan boost after Sochi rumpus

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Lewis seeks Japan boost after Sochi rumpus

Lewis Hamilton will be looking to restore normal service at the Japanese Grand Prix after being gifted a controversial victory by Mercedes in Russia last weekend.

But the runaway Formula One championship leader appears to have complicated that task by refusing to rule out leaving Mercedes when his current contract expires in 2020.

Hamilton (pictured, AFP)was allowed to claim a 70th career win when Valtteri Bottas was ordered to move over in Sochi – with the world champion describing it as “the strangest day” of his career.

The Briton, who has opened a 50-point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with five races left this season, will want to prove he can win in his own right at Suzuka this week as he chases a fifth title.

Vettel called the decision by Mercedes to sacrifice a rare Bottas victory and extend Hamilton’s championship lead a “no-brainer”.

However, Hamilton’s eighth win of the season and third in a row left the Silver Arrows red-faced and sparked fresh debate over team orders with many Formula One fans taking to social media to vent their anger.

Despite the criticism, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff insisted he had no regrets about issuing the instruction to let Hamilton pass.

“I’d rather be the baddie today than the idiot at the end of the year,” he said. “Rationally, it was the right call.”

Wolff expects Hamilton, who won in Japan for the fourth time last year, to continue his dominance this weekend.

“Lewis is hungry, focused and completely determined to succeed,” the Austrian said.

“It has been great to see the power he has brought to this championship and how he’s taken it to the next level since the summer break.”

‘Unbeatable unit’

But Hamilton has set tongues wagging in the build-up to the race by hinting he could leave Mercedes after his present deal runs out.

“I’ve given them a lot,” Hamilton told Swiss newspaper Blick.

“Mercedes and Hamilton – that’s an almost unbeatable unit. I don’t know, ask me again at the end of 2020,” he added when quizzed about his future.

Meanwhile, Vettel’s hopes of a dramatic turnaround look increasingly forlorn after finishing third behind the two Mercedes in Russia.

A fifth Japanese victory this weekend would be just the ticket for the German, who won four consecutive world championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013.

But Vettel, who began the season with back-to-back victories, also knows he needs a huge slice of luck to stand any chance of halting Hamilton’s charge to the title.

“I wasn’t a genius in maths – but it’s not getting easier if we lose points,” he said. “I still believe in our chances, yes. It takes one DNF [did not finish] and then all of a sudden things look different.”

Kimi Raikkonen can expect an emotional reception from his legion of Japanese fans in his final Suzuka race for Ferrari after learning last month that the team would not be retaining his services for 2019. The Finn will move to Sauber for the next two seasons at least.

Hamilton suggested Ferrari were making a mistake in dispensing with the 2007 world champion, who was the last man to win the drivers’ title with the Maranello team.

“He is an extraordinary professional and a fantastic driver,” he said. “He remains one of my favourite drivers and I’m convinced that Ferrari is losing a very important driver. It makes no sense to me.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is