TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) McLaren's Lewis Hamilton could be just one race away from becoming the first rookie to win the Formula One world championship, but the party will have to wait.
The 22-year-old Briton's father Anthony, a constant presence in the paddock, will see to that. The next few days will be more about early bedtimes and hard work than champagne and celebration.
''There is no partying when you are racing. No smoking, no drinking, no women, just work,'' he said after Hamilton's commanding and assured victory through the rain and spray of Fuji yesterday.
''If you want to party and you want to run women, then you need to get another job.'' Hamilton's fourth win in 15 races left the youngster 12 points clear of team mate and title rival Fernando Alonso, Spain's double world champion who crashed yesterday, with two races remaining.
At its simplest, Hamilton will be champion in yesterday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai if he wins. Failing that, he need only stay ahead of Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to prevent the title race remaining open until the final race in Brazil.
The title is his for the taking but Hamilton senior said Lewis would keep his head clear and feet firmly on the ground.
''Lewis just focuses on winning a race. the next race is what's important to him right now,'' he said.
''He'll change his clothes and we probably won't think about today other than have a smile about it. Tomorrow he'll be focusing on Shanghai.'' NO HYPE It seems like an age since Hamilton made his debut in Melbourne in March amid suggestions that perhaps he had been brought in too soon, perhaps the reality would not live up to the hype. That notion seems laughable now.
''It's a funny thing that word hype,'' mused Hamilton senior.
''That word has followed us around ever since he was seven years of age. People say can you believe the hype? ''But at every stage we have proved that the word doesn't ever actually apply to us. It applies to others. We come along, we try to do an honest job, we go away and rebuild and try again. There is no hype around Lewis,'' he added.
''It's just decent, honest hard work.
''There's only one thing you can do about Lewis and that's write the facts based on results. They speak for themselves.'' The statistics are remarkable: A run of nine podiums in a row at the start of the season, four wins, five pole positions and back-to-back wins in Canada and the United States. He has been off the podium only three times in total.
Hamilton, as Formula One's first black driver, has already shown that he can take the sport to new audiences much as Tiger Woods did in golf and Anthony Hamilton is well aware of the bigger picture.
''If we win the championship, that will be huge,'' said the proud father. ''But it's not just big for us, it really would be big for everyone.'' REUTERS BJR RS1444