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F1 Raceweek: Champion Hamilton still motivated as Massa says goodbye (again)

Lewis Hamilton looks a safe bet to continue his title-winning form in Brazil as he seeks to grind Ferrari's morale into dust.

Hamilton - cropped
Lewis Hamilton in practice at Interlagos

Lewis Hamilton is refusing to bask in the glory of a fourth Formula One drivers' title, outlining his determination to follow up his crowning moment with victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Despite limping to a ninth-place finish in Mexico a fortnight ago, Hamilton's two points were enough to seal the championship as Sebastian Vettel failed to win.

Hamilton won his last title in 2015 at the United States Grand Prix and came second to team-mate Nico Rosberg in the final three races of the campaign, the German then extending his winning run into the first four events of 2016 before holding on to secure his maiden title.

The Briton's focus remains unshaken in a week that has seen him linked to the 'Paradise Papers' probe into offshore financial conduct and he wants to continue Ferrari's late-season slump in order to take maximum momentum into 2018.

"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."

Interlagos will bid farewell to one of its heroes as Felipe Massa races in his homeland in F1 for the final time.

The Williams driver's emotions ran high 12 months ago as he retired from a race that was also expected to be his last on home soil, but the amiable veteran is sure to be afforded another hero's send-off.

 

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM PRACTICE

Hamilton looks set to make good on his vow to drive Ferrari into the ground after dominating on Friday. The Briton led team-mate Valtteri Bottas in each of the free practice sessions, but was half a second quicker than the Finn on average on race simulations using the soft tyre.

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"It's been a good day," said Hamilton. "It was pretty exciting to come to the track with the cars being so much faster this year. It's physically more demanding than before which is great and it's obviously quite warm out there today."

Vettel claimed Ferrari had investigated tyre life over outright pace, but he nevertheless looks more likely to have to fend off the Red Bulls rather than take the challenge to the Silver Arrows, while Massa delivered strong pace on long runs and qualifying sims to give the home crowd hope of a sign-off in style.

STANDINGS

Drivers
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 333 (champion)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 277 (-56)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 262 (-71)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 192 (-141)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 178 (-155)

Constructors
1. Mercedes - 595 (champions)
2. Ferrari - 455 (-140)
3. Red Bull - 340 (-255)
4. Force India - 175 (-420)
5. Williams - 76 (-519)

PREVIOUS WINNERS
2016: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2014: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

WEATHER FORECAST
Rain-masters Hamilton and Max Verstappen will have their eyes on Saturday success, when showers are forecast, although the gloom will give way to clearer skies come race day. Temperatures touching 30 degrees Celsius could give the Mercedes issues, with the Silver Arrows struggling in warmer climes for much of the season.

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