SILVER ARROWS HAVE CHANCE TO CLAIM TEAMS TITLE

Just for once Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton may enjoy a shared and mutual celebration this weekend if their Mercedes team clinch this year’s Constructors’ World Championship at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows have only to avoid being outscored by nearest rivals Red Bull, by eight points, or overhauled by Ferrari, by 23 points, to make sure they retain their status as the champion team.

In short, if Mercedes can beat Red Bull by 36 points they are champions.

It is a straightforward prospect for Mercedes, but the outcome of the drivers’ title race remains anything other than easy to forecast as defending three-time champion Briton Hamilton attempts another late season fight-back to retain his crown.

Having recovered from a 43-points deficit earlier in the year to take over the championship lead, he flies into Kuala Lumpur for this year’s contest at a revamped sweltering Sepang trailing team-mate German Rosberg by eight points with six races to go.

Having won eight races, Rosberg is being hailed as the likely champion in some quarters already as history proves that any driver with that number of wins has always previously taken the title.

Hamilton, however, still bristling with indignation after three straight victories by Rosberg, believes history -- and the record books – is only there to be re-written.

"We're both fiercely competitive," he said. "Some weekends he does great, some weekends I do great. I have no idea if the momentum will swing back to me. Or when it might.

“But we still have six races left so I just have to keep giving it my all and hope for the best. It's going to take some good results to get back in front and stay there, but I've had plenty of those in the past, so there's no reason to think they won't come back to me again.

"Singapore was a difficult weekend for me, so to come away with a podium in the circumstances was pretty good damage limitation.

“Ultimately, Nico did an exceptional job and I didn't have my best weekend, but that's the way it goes. I just have to keep giving it my all and hope for the best. That's all you can do as a sportsman."

Rosberg said: "I've had a good run lately and I'm enjoying the moment, but as far as the next race goes or the next one after that and so on... it's anyone's game. Red Bull and Ferrari are both pushing us really hard, so there will be some tough weekends ahead."

The German’s warning should be heeded by Mercedes who know that this weekend’s race will be no stroll in the park – or the jungle.

They know Ferrari are the most successful team at Sepang with seven wins and that four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel won last year for the scarlet scuderia, just one of his record four wins at the circuit.

And last year Mercedes struggled. The Malaysian race was one of only three that they did not win thanks to Ferrari’s superior tyre strategy. But Vettel is still hunting his first win this year… As is Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull who went so close to breaking his 2016 duck in Singapore two weeks ago.

“This is another hot race in a hot place with loads of humidity,” said the Perth racer. “We have a good record here so let’s hope the track modifications will suit us.”

Sepang track boss Razlan Razali said: “There will be some unknowns for the teams and drivers as we've changed the dynamics of the circuit a little bit at various turns.

“It will be as if they've come to Sepang circuit for the first time."

It may seen new to many, but it will be more of the same in many ways for Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, as he is set to take part in his 300th Grand Prix, joining a club in which there are only two other drivers: seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.  

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