Lewis Hamilton has dismissed focusing on the 2019 Formula 1 world title despite his lead in the drivers’ world championship which was extended to 73 points over Valtteri Bottas thanks to victory at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver profited from a timely Virtual Safety Car period to pit for new tyres and duly leapfrog Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after his team-mate Sebastian Vettel stopped on track with an engine breakdown.

After ending a three-race victory drought, Hamilton has tightened his grip on the F1 world title with his dominant points lead over Bottas while Leclerc is now 107 points back in third place with a maximum of 130 points left to score.

But rather than shift his focus towards wrapping up the F1 title, Hamilton wants to keep concentrating on each race given the heightened competition level he feels he has faced over the second half of the season.

“I don’t try to think about it so it is not that it is difficult,” Hamilton said about closing in on the 2019 F1 title. “It is easy to focus on the task at hand and that is not easy at the moment so honestly I am just focusing on being the best that I can be each weekend, one race at a time, and making sure I deliver at a high rate.

“What is really impressive is just seeing how we are fighting against the Ferraris who have a great pace but Charles, Valtteri, Seb, Max, Carlos and so many of the drivers are really performing so well.

“I think it is one of the best years I’ve seen drivers perform in terms of class performances which means everyone has to raise their bar including myself. I am enjoying that challenge.

“As I said just one race at a time and then next race is going to be super hard to try to beat these guys again but not impossible as we showed today.”

Hamilton now has nine wins to his name this season with next highest on the wins tally being Bottas, Leclerc and Max Verstappen all on two wins each in 2019, but conceded Mercedes’ strategy starting on the Medium tyres didn’t look like paying off until Vettel’s timely mechanical trouble which played into the hands of both Mercedes drivers.

“To win the race? I don’t think I was particularly confident but we knew that we were obviously on the different tyre to put ourselves on a slightly different strategy in that respect,” he said. “I hoped that would give us an opportunity to dice and fight with them at some stage through the race but before the race we sat down and said our estimations, if the soft tyre will last or not, either we will be correct or they will be correct.

“I think ultimately they were right because the soft tyre was much stronger than we anticipated.

“We were able to extend [the first stint] for like 15 laps hoping that when we came back out on the softs so we had a chance to fight with one of them on different tyres, but obviously the Safety Car and all those things came into it.”

With Hamilton taking victory it also maintains Mercedes’ 100% winning record in Russia.

 

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