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Hamilton looking to reward Mercedes with win after 'inspiring year'

By Ben Spratt

Singapore, October 2: Lewis Hamilton hopes he can belatedly celebrate his first win of 2022 at the Singapore Grand Prix, believing such a result would pay back Mercedes and his fans for their support in a difficult year.

Hamilton is facing the first winless season of his Formula One career after falling out of title contention.

The seven-time world champion has made six podiums this year but is still waiting to return to the top step with only six races remaining in the season.

Hamilton at least appears to have the pace in Singapore, where he qualified third-fastest on Saturday (October 1) and revealed only "an oversteer moment" at Turn 16 denied him the chance to take pole ahead of Charles Leclerc.

It was still the Briton's best qualifying performance of the season – which came as a surprise to him – and he is looking to improve further on race day.

"It feels incredibly rewarding, I think, for everyone in the team [to get this performance]," Hamilton said in a press conference.

"We've really started with a real handful, a difficult deck of cards that we've created for ourselves, and [it has meant] reshuffling and lots and lots of work.

"Everyone [has been] staying really positive, or as positive as possible, and everyone is just being incredibly diligent and never giving up.

"So, it's been an inspiring year for me, witnessing what my team do and being a part of that, and yeah, I so badly want to [win].

"Naturally the will and desire to get a good result for them, to pay them back for all their great work is part of it.

"Also, my fans have been the most incredible this year, on and off track. And we couldn't have survived the year without them. So, I also want it for them.

"But I think we've got a great turnout here this weekend. And I hope that tomorrow we can give them a good show."

This weekend, in which Max Verstappen can clinch a second straight title, albeit the Dutchman's chances have been reduced by a frustrating qualifying session, has been overshadowed by speculation of a major salary cap breach.

Red Bull, Verstappen's team, have been forced to deny claims they are the guilty party, and Hamilton was not interested in engaging in gossip.

"I'm not really giving it much attention, to be honest," he said. "It's all whispers at the moment.

"I don't know enough about it to be able to make a sensible comment. I'm not thinking particularly anything.

"I'm proud of my team for the diligence that they've done to run to the rules.

"And honestly, I have full confidence in Mohammed [bin Sulayem, FIA president] in the way that he's conducted himself to this point and in terms of being strict and being clear with the rules.

"The rules are rules, and for those sort of things, which can lead to real alterations in terms of car performance, those sorts of things, we definitely have to take it seriously.

"But as I said, I don't know if it's true or not, so we'll see."

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Story first published: Sunday, October 2, 2022, 9:06 [IST]
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