Lewis Hamilton reckons the current level of respect amongst drivers, especially himself and Sebastian Vettel, is the “greatest” it has been in years.
This weekend the four-time World Champion could make it five, all he needs to do is outscore Vettel by eight points.
Although this season was all about Vettel and Ferrari in the opening half, Hamilton and Mercedes have come to the fore since the summer break.
Benefitting from mistakes made by the German, Hamilton’s lead has grown to 67 points.
The Brit, though, has reiterated his belief that Vettel does not deserve the criticism that he has faced of late.
Asked about defending Vettel after yet more errors in Japan, Hamilton said: “I think if I was in the same position they would probably do the same thing so it’s more as drivers.
“We are all members of the GPDA and I think we all just need to stick together and I think the respect that we have for one another I think is probably the greatest that it’s been for many years.
“At least in the years that I’ve been in Formula One.
“I think ultimately as a four-time World Champion, it is the most intense year that we’ve had.
“So every hiccup is magnified, naturally, as it is perhaps in any sport at the top.
“But there have been many – or several – times that I’ve been in the firing range and Seb’s always been really respectful and supported me, so I thought it was only just to do the same.”