Hamilton vows to stay aggressive at F1 Japanese GP

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SUZUKA, JAPAN (AP) - Lewis Hamilton said he will not temper his aggressive racing style at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix despite crashing out of the past two Formula One races while attempting ambitious passing moves.

Consecutive non-finishes mean the McLaren driver has dropped to third in the drivers’ championship standings with 182 points _ 20 behind leader Mark Webber of Red Bull with four races left.

The sharp drop does not put a title out of reach for the English driver, who seized the points lead after winning the Canadian Grand Prix in June before his slip.

“I’m looking at all the races, taking a step back and trying to see how I can improve,” Hamilton said Thursday. “You could just drive around and not pass anyone but that’s not me and that’s not going to happen.”

Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button is fifth in the standings and still in contention. But the McLaren duo have scored just 81 points over five races since Germany, while Red Bull and Ferrari have taken 134 and 154 respectively.

Despite the recent setbacks, Hamilton said he wasn’t giving up on the championship race.

“There are still four races to go,” Hamilton said. “Looking back at this season and knowing how fast things can change, I still feel optimistic so I’m going to work as hard as I can to finish races.”

Hamilton was knocked out of the Singapore Grand Prix after a mid-race collision with Webber, seriously damaging his chances for the championship.

“You have to race sensibly and avoid incidents,” Hamilton said. “But when you are racing wheel-to-wheel, incidents happen. I don’t think what happened in Singapore was anything unusual. That’s just racing.”

With a figure-eight layout and multiple challenging curves, Suzuka is a difficult test for drivers.

“There is a lot of downforce here,” Hamilton said. “Probably more opportunity to overtake and there is a lot of overtaking here especially when its wet, which it could be on Sunday.”

Hamilton finished third in last year’s race at Suzuka, won by Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel. The McLaren driver said he expects another strong performance from Red Bull.

“Red Bull is going to be tough to beat,” Hamilton said. “But we are pushing hard so hopefully, we can close the gap on them.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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