Lewis Hamilton is convinced he has provided Mercedes with the perfect tonic to enjoy the summer break and a base to attack the Formula One world title over the second half of the season.
Against all odds and expectations going into the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Hamilton conjured a surprise victory around the Hungaroring, his fourth in his seven years in F1, to revive his championship hopes.
The gap to Sebastian Vettel, who finished third behind Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, is still a significant but not insurmountable 48 points with nine races remaining.
If Mercedes have genuinely cured their tyre woes, as appeared to be the case on Sunday as for once they survived the kind of searing heat in which they normally suffer, Hamilton may just have a shot at the title after all. For now though, he and everyone within Mercedes can enjoy the fortnight closure of the factory after finally securing his maiden triumph with the team.
“There is no better feeling for a team to go into a break than to win. It’s a big boost,” said Hamilton
“I was lucky enough to do it with McLaren. It was always a really good boost for them to go into this period of time relaxed, knowing we’d had a win. I feel it will do the same for this team, the first time they have had that feeling going into a break.”
In revealing he had received a picture of everyone celebrating back at the factory in Brackley, he added: “That shows what a tonic it is. Maybe now we’ll have a better chance of moving forward in the next few races after the break. The championship is definitely in the back of my mind, but going to the next race (in Belgium on August 25) you never know what the tyres are going to do.
“Sunday was the hottest race of the whole year and we put in a performance like we did. It definitely gives me confidence for the next nine races we can continue moving forward and have some good opportunities to win.”
As for Hamilton, who has been suffering personally following his recent much-publicised break-up from long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, the win also does him some good – at least temporarily.
Hamilton, who dedicated his success to Scherzinger, said: “For the next few days it will definitely keep me on a high. It’s just a natural high you get, a bit of a Band Aid that will cover me for some time.”
Team principal Ross Brawn believes Hamilton produced a performance that underlined exactly why Mercedes opted to lure him away from McLaren.
“He was tremendous,” said Brawn.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve in terms of telling you what the car is like and sometimes that’s good because it provokes a strong reaction from the team.
But from setting the car up, qualifying was great and the way he raced was just sensational.”
As for a potential title charge, Brawn added: “The team had a very strong weekend. If we replicate that there’s no reason why not.”
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