By Alan Baldwin
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton will be starring in the next “Call of Duty” video game due out in November but the Formula One world champion has a real and more immediate fight on his hands in Texas this weekend.
The Mercedes driver, returning to the U.S. Grand Prix circuit where last year he won his third title, told 3.8 million followers on Twitter that he would be a character in the “Infinite Warfare” edition.
Hamilton, 33 points behind German team mate Nico Rosberg with four rounds remaining, is determined to give it his best shot on the track as well – even if it is looking an increasingly long one.
The Briton knows the odds are now stacked against him winning a fourth title this season, given that even winning all the remaining races will not be enough if Rosberg finishes second every time.
But the same bad luck that saw him retire with an engine failure while leading in Malaysia this month can also strike elsewhere.
“We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s exactly what I plan to do. It’s just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there,” said Hamilton.
“I’ll be holding nothing back out there.
“I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt.
“It’s almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I’ll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend.”
Hamilton could do with some of that after a negative Japanese Grand Prix in which he seemed determined to take on all-comers.
At Suzuka two weeks ago, he was criticized for playing with Snapchat on his phone during the main Thursday news conference and then walked out of a team media briefing after hitting out at “disrespectful” criticism of his behavior by journalists.
If Hamilton hopes for a return to form in Texas, Rosberg has unfinished business to deal with as he charts his way – one race at a time – towards a first title.
His mistake in Austin last October, while leading the race, gifted the title to Hamilton in bitter circumstances.
Rosberg went off to console himself after the race by belting out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” at a team karaoke night.
It seemed to do the trick, the German reeling off seven wins in a row on the back of the Texas defeat and returning a year later much more than “half way there” and searching for his 10th victory of the season.
“Last year this race obviously didn’t work out so great for me, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there and doing my best to get it right this time,” said Rosberg.
Red Bull, the only team other than Mercedes to have won races this season with Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, will also be hoping to get in the mix as will Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
With no U.S. driver on the grid, the U.S.-owned Haas team will be making a first home appearance while Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez can count on strong support from across the border.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams)