sport

Hamilton relishing title battle

Lewis Hamilton is relishing this weekend's fight to the finish for the Formula One world title between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has no doubts Hamilton would also have been in contention going into Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix had his team not underperformed and let down the 27-year-old.

Sunday's victory in the United States underlined just what Hamilton and the team are capable of as he conjured a stunning drive.

Instead, it is a duel between Vettel and Alonso as both men aim to become a three-time champion, with the duo separated by 13 points.

Addressing the title fight, Hamilton said: "It's a very finely poised battle, and neither Sebastian nor Fernando can afford to relax for a moment.

"They are both fantastic drivers, and both have driven superbly all season.

"Now we'll see who takes the final honours - I hope it's an epic contest."

For Hamilton, it is a case of what might have been as McLaren have been plagued by pit-stop issues and unreliability at various stages this season.

Whitmarsh is aware of what must be done over the winter, even though Hamilton will not be with the team in 2013 given he joins Mercedes at the start of the year.

"We've underperformed, we haven't done a good enough job in a number of different ways," said Whitmarsh.

"We've done some good things, we had a quick car, but we haven't nailed it in the way I would like this year, which is something we have to take stock of.

"We have to get better with everything we do, which is something we aim to do during the winter and target an epic season next year."

For now, with one race remaining at the end of his six years in F1 with McLaren, Hamilton would love to go out with back-to-back wins.

Although claiming Sunday's win in Austin was the "ultimate high" as he again had the team smiling as they wore their rocket-red victory tops post-race, naturally the racer in him still wants more.

"Brazil has been the scene of some epic races for me during my time at McLaren and, for many reasons, this weekend will be a very big race for me," said Hamilton.

"I nearly won the title here in 2007, clinched it on the final turn in '08 and drove like crazy to finish on the podium in '09.

"But I've never won, and that's what I'll be aiming to do this time around.

"As my final race behind the wheel of a McLaren, I vow to the whole team that I'll give it my all on every single lap.

"My win in Austin last week was one of the races of my life, and I'd love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present."