SAO PAULO – Lewis Hamilton will race to win this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, but is prepared to obey team orders and help Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finish second in the drivers’ standings.
The newly-crowned four-time world champion, who was fastest in Friday morning’s opening free practice, said he has no intention of easing off or losing focus – as he admitted he did after winning the title in 2015.
“There are still two races to go. I am still in the same mental frame of mind that there are still races to be ticked off. It wouldn’t feel normal to back off at this moment,” he told reporters on Friday.
“It’s the best time ever to apply even more pressure – just because I can. There are still two wins available.”
Asked about Bottas, he added: “Valtteri wants to get it on merit. He has been working hard throughout the year and is focused more than ever, so I know he wants to do it on his own.
“But if the team asks me, then for sure! As I said before, my mentality for the last two races is to win – and I have not been told otherwise.”
He added that he had eased off two years ago after winning the title at the United States Grand Prix.
German teammate Nico Rosberg won the final races of the season and went on to take the title in 2016 before retiring to be replaced by Finn Bottas.
“Two years ago, definitely, looking back, you could say the focus was not the same as it had been during the season,” he said.
“I genuinely don’t like to look back, or I genuinely don’t like to live with regret, so it is what it is, but I don’t want to be in that position again. I’m planning to just keep the pressure up exactly the same as it’s been all year.”
He said that the success of winning a fourth title had not sunk in. “The reason it’s not really sunk is I’ve tried to stay in the zone, really,” he said.
“I’m still, kind of, in the same frame of mind. I’ve still got two races to go.
“It’s two more wins available... I think I can continue winning for a long, long time.”
Hamilton spoke with a husky voice after arriving in Brazil with a cold following a holiday in Peru, where he trekked up Machu Picchu.
“It was raining and it was cold, but I feel good again now. My voice is still not great,” the Briton said. “But I’m healthy.”