Ferrari will "punch back hard" - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton expects Ferrari to "punch back hard" in the United States Grand Prix and insists he is not thinking about clinching the 2018 Formula 1 world championship at Austin.

Ferrari will "punch back hard" - Hamilton

Hamilton can secure his fifth F1 title if he extends his 67-point lead over Sebastian Vettel to 75 this weekend - meaning a win with his Ferrari rival third or lower would be sufficient.

He was adamant that Mercedes is not even contemplating the possibility of settling the championship fight early.

"As a team none of us are saying how cool it will be if it happens this weekend or the next," said Hamilton.

"We are not focusing on ifs. We are focusing on making sure we deliver.

"There are still 100 points available so you can never be complacent in life and in a championship as intense as this.

"We expect Ferrari to punch back hard here this weekend, so we cannot be relaxed in any shape or form. We have to make sure we raise the bar again.

"I'm definitely not thinking this weekend 'how it is going to feel if we do the job?' because I have to do the job, and that just adds more pressure and you don't need more pressure.

"I am focusing on trying to make sure I drive the best I've driven all year long and we get the car where we need to get it.

"It is going to be wet I think all day tomorrow and potentially on Saturday so it will be a tricky weekend. Nothing is given."

Hamilton was eight points behind Vettel three months ago, following the Ferrari driver's British GP win.

Since then, the reigning champion has won six of the subsequent seven GPs, while crashes and collisions in Germany, Italy and Japan have contributed to the collapse of Vettel's title bid.

Following Suzuka, Hamilton said in a social media message that he felt "the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian", emphasising the pressure of fighting for an F1 title and adding "being humans we will make mistakes but it is how we get through them that counts".

At Austin on Thursday he explained his motivation for defending Vettel was that the 2018 F1 season had been the hardest-fought and most respectful he had experienced.

"I think if I was in the same position he would do the same thing," said Hamilton.

"We as drivers all need to stick together and the respect we all have for each other is the greatest it has been for many years - at least the years I have been in F1.

"It is the most intense year I have had. Every hiccup is magnified.

"There have been several times where I have been in the firing range and Seb has always been respectful in supporting me so I thought it was only just to do the same."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Sutton Images

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