Mercedes braced for a nail-biting finale

Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:19pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Mercedes are almost ready to let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg off the leash now that the title-chasing pair have secured the team's first Formula One constructors' world championship. Almost, but not quite.

"If you look at the points, we have made a massive step towards the drivers' title," said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff after the team's ninth one-two and 13th win of the season in Sunday's inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

"So we could be coming into a situation which everybody would love of course, and it's safe to let them race in the way they want to race."

Wolff said that for the time being, until it was mathematically certain that the Mercedes drivers could not be overtaken, there remained "an invisible little leash" restraining them.

While there is no question in anyone's mind that Hamilton or Rosberg will be crowned champion at the end of the season, there is still the slimmest of chances that Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo could do it.

The Australian is 92 points behind Hamilton and 75 adrift of Rosberg with 100 remaining to be won from the last three races. No other driver is in contention.

Ricciardo is the only man other than the Mercedes drivers to have won this season but he would still need three more victories to have any chance and even then it would require the Silver Arrows to draw an unthinkable blank.

Realistically, his chances are likely to be snuffed out at the next race in Austin, Texas, in three weeks' time.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates with the trophy after winning the first Russian Grand Prix in Sochi October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh