'Hammer time' for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has promised to hit back in Japan this weekend, following frustration in Malaysia as he looks to close in on a fourth Formula One world title.

The Briton had a three-race win streak snapped by Red Bull's Max Verstappen last weekend, but still finished second, extending his championship lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to 34 points with five races left.

Hamilton, who slammed the performance of his Mercedes after squandering pole position, insisted yesterday that he wanted to win the title in style and not crawl over the line.

"I want to win this thing," he said in Suzuka.

"I know I might have the nail in a little bit, but I need to keep hammering it.

"It's not done until there's nowhere left to push it basically. In my mind, I need to win every race from now on. I'm not here to finish second in every race to do the job - I want to win convincingly."

Hamilton, who has won seven of this year's 15 races, backed Mercedes to deliver in the cooler conditions in Japan, but warned that there could still be a twist in the title run-in.

Reminded that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called the car a "bit of a diva" earlier this year, Hamilton likened it to his own often prickly character.

"It's stubborn," said Hamilton.

"But that's cool because I'm stubborn. The car and I have lots in common - it's got great potential, but doesn't always want to do what you tell it to.

"The team find that with me maybe," he said with a smile.

"But, if the car were perfect every weekend, it would be boring." - AFP

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