Valtteri Bottas ‘realistic’ over his chances of catching Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s last remaining championship challenger says he will need to be “very lucky” to stop the Briton from sealing his sixth title.

Valtteri Bottas won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday to take nine points out of Hamilton’s championship lead.

But Hamilton will head to Mexico City for next weekend’s grand prix 64 points clear of his Mercedes team-mate with just 104 still available.

Hamilton will move to within one triumph of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record if he wins at the high-altitude venue and Bottas crosses the line fifth or lower.

“Everything is possible,” said Bottas, following his first victory since April. “But I am realistic as well. I will need to be very lucky to win the rest of the races. That is a fact.

“It is mostly my bad that I am this far behind in the points to Lewis. It is my fault and I will try to fix that in the future.”

Hamilton, 34, travelled from Suzuka to Tokyo with Bottas before flying to London. The Englishman will this week spend time with family ahead of his potential coronation a week on Sunday.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team clinched the title in Japan, and with the five-time world champion and Bottas now the only men left in the running to win the drivers’ championship, the Silver Arrows will become the first team in Formula One history to win six consecutive constructors’ and individual crowns.

But Hamilton’s boss Toto Wolff insists the sport’s most successful team must honour the memory of Niki Lauda – the team’s late non-executive chairman who died in May – by turning their attention to winning a seventh straight title in 2020.

“This sixth championship is a very special one and we dedicate it to Niki,” said team principal Wolff. “He has been such an important part from the beginning, and we all miss him dearly.

“I think about him every day and still find it hard to believe that he’s not here any more. I keep thinking to myself ‘what would Niki say and what would he think?’

“He probably would have said ‘congratulations for the sixth one, but you have a challenge on your hands for next year.’ It was his way of making sure that we were never complacent.”

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