Sports

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton closing in on 7th world title

Lewis Hamilton could seal a record-equalling seventh drivers' crown in a fortnight, after clinching the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, yesterday to secure Mercedes an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors' title.

Hamilton's teammate and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas finished second with Daniel Ricciardo third for Renault.

"What an incredible achievement for all of you. I am so proud of everybody and I am so grateful to be a part of it," Hamilton said on the team radio.

"Couldn't have done it without you," came back the reply from the Mercedes garage.

The Silver Arrows had already started celebrating their team title 12 laps from the end when Red Bull's Max Verstappen crashed out with what looked like a sudden rear puncture while in second place.

Red Bull had to score 34 points more than Mercedes to keep the championship open beyond Imola. Verstappen's under-pressure Thai teammate Alexander Albon failed to score in 15th place.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the landmark title was "something to be proud of", adding that "as long as we stay motivated and energised, we can push each other more".

Formula One returns on Nov 15 in Turkey, where Hamilton could equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven drivers' titles.

Although several countries in Europe are entering another round of lockdowns, Wolff believes F1 will be exempted.

Last Saturday, Britain's Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed that elite sport - including the English Premier League, the ATP Tour Finals from Nov 15-22 and horse-racing - will continue behind closed doors, as the UK goes into another lockdown from Thursday to Dec 2. - REUTERS, AFP

MOTORSPORTS