Lewis Hamilton told a Formula One fan who claimed Sebastian Vettel was a better driver than him that he should “go to Specsavers” after moving 28 points clear of his rival in the title race with victory in Singapore.
Hamilton is now the overwhelming favourite to become the first British driver to win four championships in the sport’s history after he defied the odds to triumph at Sunday’s rain-hit race, while Vettel crashed out after just three corners.
The 32-year-old Englishman jetted straight out of Singapore in the early hours of Monday morning with his Mercedes bosses, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, before touching down in Vienna and then London.
On board the flight, Hamilton insisted he would honour his new-found Vegan diet, and steer clear of the ham and cheese available on board Lauda’s private jet.
Instead he would toast his pivotal Singapore victory with bread and water. Hamilton invited his 4.8 million Instagram followers to join him from the runway in Singapore before aiming a jibe at his rival Vettel in the moments before departing the Far East.
In a live post, which lasted more than five minutes, Hamilton addressed a fan that suggested Vettel – who crashed out of Sunday’s race following a three-way pile-up with his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – was the more accomplished driver of the two.
“One day you will see that that’s not the case,” said Hamilton, a winner of 60 grands prix. “If you haven’t, then maybe you need to go to Specsavers.”
Hamilton, 32, boarded the jet in buoyant mood following his most unlikely of victories – his third in as many races since the summer break – and at a circuit where his Mercedes car had been desperately off the pace.
Yet with only six rounds remaining, and his bogey track at Singapore chalked off, Hamilton can afford to retire from at least one race and still remain in control of the championship battle.
“I’m loving driving more than ever,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I am driving better than ever, and I feel the most whole as a driver that I have ever been which is a great feeling.
“Who knows if we are going to get anywhere near Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championships. I don’t have a desire to chase that, but records are there to be broken so at some stage someone will break them. Whether it is me, I can’t tell you.”
Hamilton will head back to Asia in just a week’s time for the sport’s double-header of Malaysia and Japan with Mercedes expected to be the car to beat despite their Singapore troubles.
“We must not drop the ball,” Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Wolff added. “We just need to continue and get on with the job. There’s lots of time for cheering when we’ve actually won the title.
“Championship-wise it’s a big step forward. You can kind of feel for Ferrari. I’ve been in the situation of losing both cars, and you can relate how awful that feels for them. But I guess we’re not here to take prisoners.”