Lewis Hamilton admits he adopted a 'war' mentality following he and Nico Rosberg's controversial clash at the Belgian Grand Prix, reports Sky Sports.
The incident back in September was the first on-track contact between the two Mercedes drivers as Rosberg clipped Hamilton's left-rear tyre in an attempted overtake on lap two causing the Briton a puncture and later retire.
After the race, where the German would go on to finish second behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, Rosberg had a lead of 29 points, his joint highest advantage at any stage of this season, however, since then Hamilton has reeled off five consecutive wins and turned that deficit into a 24-point lead with two races to go.
This means war
Speaking to Sky Sports about the turnaround, the 29-year-old admitted that in a season long battle that was his turning point.
"You don't really look five or 10 races ahead. I've just always kept my head down, kept chipping away," he said.
"I had those four wins (early in the season), and then there was the bad patch from Monaco onwards.
"Then Spa was like 'I'm going to turn this up. I'm going to have to turn this up. This means war', that kind of feeling.
"In reflecting on it, I turned the energy from that negative bomb into a positive."
As mentioned, since the race at Spa, the Briton has won five straight races with Rosberg buckling under the pressure at several of them.
His latest victory in Austin this past weekend was another example of Rosberg having the speed advantage over a single lap but during the race was unable to keep a superior Hamilton at bay.
The reaction post-Spa was also very telling as it saw a shift in how the two drivers raced. It was always known that Mercedes' number one target this year was to win the Constructors' championship.
And as Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull capitalised on Mercedes mistakes in Hungary and Belgium it created the feeling that, post-Spa, the drivers battle for their own championship had to come secondary to Mercedes achieving their aim.
Rosberg's negative reaction
But not only that, the way the team, fans and certain media clamped down on Rosberg for causing what in the scheme of things was a very minor incident with a major repercussion also seemed to signal a drop in his own standard.
It was really the first time Rosberg had tried to do something bold against his team-mate and when it didn't quite go to plan he was ridiculed because his judgement was only marginally out.
That seemed to seemed to knock the stuffing out him and has certainly made him wary when going wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton.
In Monza, he locked up, with his team-mate closing in, missed the first chicane and gifted Lewis the win, at Suzuka it was sheer bravery that saw Hamilton pull a great move around the outside into turn one but in Sochi it was sheer overeagerness that saw Rosberg lock both his front wheels at the first proper corner causing him to pit and again gifting an easy win.
Hamilton remains wary
So certainly as much as Hamilton has raised his game there is an argument that Rosberg lowered his since their coming together at Spa and while the 2008 champion has become only the third driver in history to score a double digit number of wins in a season, still finds himself aware of the Rosberg threat.
"I'm not sure I do have an edge," said Hamilton when asked if he had the mental advantage over Rosberg.
"Every weekend Nico resets, he comes in and qualifies on pole. He's massively strong mentally. He's still there, still fighting."
A championship is still a championship
Indeed Rosberg is still very much up for the battle over the final two race and, contrary to his team, claims his championship wouldn't be tainted if he won thanks to double points.
“It is what it is," he was quoted by crash.net when asked about the topic.
“I don't really care, as long as I have one point more at the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi I don't care why or how. It is the same for everybody.”
The German also admits he is less concerned about losing the world title this year because he expects Mercedes to be fighting for the championship again in 2015.
“There is of course another good chance since our car is awesome and the team is doing an awesome job. I am just in the moment now and want to make the most of it.”
For Hamilton, however there is a broader feeling that he would be the more deserved of the two to be crowned champion for a second time because with his minimum of ten wins and in the face of all the troubles he had mid-season he, in my opinion, has been the better driver.
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