Renault say Hamilton still favourite

Lewis Hamilton's four points advantage over Fernando Alonso in the drivers' championship are enough to make him favourite to win the title in Brazil, despite having thrown away a golden chance to clinch the crown in China

Renault say Hamilton still favourite

That is the view of two of reigning champions Renault's senior figures, who think that Hamilton will beat their former driver Alonso even though they believe his approach to last weekend's race in China was 'short-sighted'

Speaking on Renault's official Formula One podcast, sporting manager Steve Nielsen said: "You would have to say that although it (Hamilton's advantage) is only four points, if Lewis doesn't have any huge disasters he has got to be favourite.

"With the way the points are distributed, four points are a lot... I probably would like to see Fernando win it because of the history he had with us, but I think Lewis will win it because of the four points advantage."

Chief race engineer Alan Permane added: "Yeah, I think so unfortunately. I said mid-season I thought Fernando would win it, but unfortunately for Fernando it does look like Lewis has got the legs on him.

"We worked with him and what he (Alonso) did for us, let's not pretend, we would not have won the last two world championship without him.

"We worked with each other and for each other. He is a nice guy and he is obviously having a very, very difficult season there. He is a bit like a fish out of water, he went there thinking everything would be fantastic and rosy but it is clearly not for him.

"What would be amusing would be for Kimi (Raikkonen) to win it because that would leave McLaren with nothing! But that would be a shame after such a competitive season.

"With all the difficulties and problems they went through in the middle of the season, with the spying scandal, to come away with nothing would be awful."

Despite tipping Hamilton for glory in Brazil, both Nielsen and Permane think that Hamilton's and McLaren's approach to last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix was wrong - and they believe the team and driver should have played the cautious approach to clinch the title.

Nielsen said: "In Lewis' position, he had a fair old cushion. (With a) 12 points lead in the championship, you don't need to take risks."

Speaking about whether or not Hamilton should have remained on track with the badly worn wet tyres that eventually caused him to run off on the pit entry, Permane said: "It was an easy decision.

"(Alexander) Wurz stopped on (lap) 23 and was straightaway doing pink (fastest sector) laps. He was fastest almost immediately. So at that point you have got to say, is it going to rain again? If it is not, then you get your drivers in...

"I think it very strange they kept him out as long as they did. They must have had some information that it was going to rain.

"But even then, if you looked at his tyres it was very clear to see from the pit wall, let alone the TV, that his rear tyres were finished. There was no tread on them anyway, so if it rained again he would have been in total trouble.

"I know they are not calling it a mistake, but for me it was a team and a driver mistake. More a team mistake I would say."

With Hamilton having declared in the build-up to the event that he intended to win the race to seal his title, Permane thinks he would have been better off taking the kind of conservative approach that helped Alonso in his end-of-season title battles in 2005 and 2006.

He added: "I can't believe that a team like McLaren would say that at all costs we will try and win the race. I cannot believe that. If he (Hamilton) feels that then it is a bit short-sighted really.

"We learned with the way Fernando drove last season, he drove for the championship totally. Had Lewis stopped a few laps earlier he may have been second or third but he would have been world champion probably."

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