Following Lewis Hamilton's third placed finish in the Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda believes the British driver has very little chance of catching Nico Rosberg at the top of the Driver's Championships.
The German finished the race in first place, his ninth first-place finish of the season, and extended his lead over the current World Champion in the process.
Lauda firmly believes that Rosberg now has a clear path to winning the championship, barring any serious pitfalls during the remaining races.
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He commented: "Nico is doing everything right at the moment.
"If everything is going normal, the championship could be decided in the next few races, and Lewis won't be able to catch Nico any more. This is perfectly clear to me."
The former World Champion added: "It is only lost and won when the points are gathered, but if nothing happens to either car, I don't think Lewis will be able to turn it around again."
Hamilton, now sitting 33 points behind the German, has four races left to reduce the gap, but with only 100 points to contest for during the remainder of the season, it is highly unlikely that the 31-year-old will be able to topple his Mercedes teammate.
The British racer has been the focus of media scrutiny following his "disrespectful" Snapchat controversy during a press conference last week.
On Saturday, Hamilton walked out of his meeting with the written media in response to his disrespectful treatment by the press following the Snapchat incident.
The troubles carried into the race on Sunday for the driver as he fell to eighth place during the start, managing only third spot at the end of the race.
Hamilton commented on his performance: "I made a mistake, and then just working my way up from there was tricky."
In what turned out to be a bizarre weekend for the World Champion, he called on Mercedes to withdraw their protest against Max Verstappen, who seemed to have illegally blocked Hamilton during the race.
A successful appeal could have seen Hamilton move to second spot, which would have certainly helped his cause to catch Rosberg.
Instead, the veteran driver stated: "There is no protest from either myself or Mercedes."
The British driver added: "One idiot said we have but it's not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on."
Hamilton concluded: "Just heard the team had but I told them it is not what we do. We are champions, we move on. End of!"
Despite heaping praise upon the Dutch driver, Hamilton could have very well ended his own chances of winning the race to the summit by shooting down the appeal claims.
Can Lewis Hamilton still win the Driver's Championship? Leave YOUR predictions in the comment section below!
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