Hamil­ton Hun­gary for pole hon­ours

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BU­DA­PEST: If all goes to plan for Lewis Hamil­ton in Hun­gary this week­end, the Mercedes driver will equal one of Michael Schu­macher’s all-time records and head into For­mula One’s sum­mer break as sole leader of the championship.

Hamil­ton re­mains a long way off Schu­macher’s record 91 race wins but Satur­day’s qual­i­fy­ing at the Hun­garor­ing could see him equal the great Ger­man’s hith­erto un­matched 68 pole po­si­tions.

A 58th ca­reer win for the Bri­ton, and sixth at the cir­cuit out­side Bu­da­pest, on Sun­day would send the triple world cham­pion off on va­ca­tion with at least a six-point ad­van­tage over Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel.

Four-times cham­pion Vet­tel has led since win­ning the Aus­tralian sea­son-opener in March, jointly with Hamil­ton af­ter China, but the Ger­man ar­rives in Hun­gary only a point clear af­ter 10 of 20 races.

Hamil­ton, beaten by now-re­tired team mate Nico Ros­berg to the 2016 ti­tle, but win­ner in Hun­gary, has not led the championship on his own since last Septem­ber but has the mo­men­tum af­ter a crush­ing home vic­tory at Sil­ver­stone.

“There’s lots more things that can come up in the fu­ture but I think the team’s re­ally en­er­gised,” he said af­ter win­ning from a ca­reer 67th pole po­si­tion.

Mercedes are 55 points clear of Fer­rari in the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings but team boss Toto Wolff was wary of sug­gest­ing the cham­pi­ons were the favourites again.

“The mo­ment you say that, you go to the next race and are slapped in the face,” the Austrian told re­porters.

“It is tricky. Our car is not al­ways easy to set up and we have be­come much bet­ter at do­ing so in a great team ef­fort. But I’d like to see Bu­da­pest and how the car works on a low speed, high tem­per­a­ture track and then maybe have a more com­plete pic­ture.”

With 250 points still to be won in the driv­ers’ championship, Wolff said the key was to ex­tract ev­ery inch of per­for­mance and min­imise mis­takes.

For Vet­tel, Hun­gary is a chance to re­build his ad­van­tage at a track where in 2015 the Fer­rari driver won af­ter Hamil­ton started on pole.

Fin­nish team mate Kimi Raikko­nen and com­pa­triot Valt­teri Bot­tas in the Mercedes will also be strong con­tenders, as will Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo.

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