Lewis sets out to usurp Vet­tel

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BU­DA­PEST: Lewis Hamil­ton aims to con­tinue his mo­men­tum from the Bri­tish home race at Sun­day’s Hun­gary Grand Prix in or­der to snatch the For­mula One cham­pi­onship lead from Se­bas­tian Vet­tel for the first time in the sea­son.

Hamil­ton could on Satur­day set the stage for a pos­si­ble sixth vic­tory on the 4,381-kilo­me­tre Hun­garor­ing by draw­ing level with Michael Schu­macher on a record 68 pole po­si­tions.

Hamil­ton, pic­tured, moved within one point of Fer­rari’s Vet­tel with vic­tory in Sil­ver­stone on July 16 and mov­ing ahead at the start of the sec­ond half of the 20-race sea­son and head­ing into a four-week sum­mer break would be a big con­fi­dence booster for the Mere­cedes driver.

“This re­sult re­ally opens up the cham­pi­onship – and we go to Hun­gary next, where I’ve al­ways gone well,” Hamil­ton said. “With­out a doubt we hope it stays the way that it’s swung this time but, as you know, a pen­du­lum swings. We’re just hop­ing that we can be on our toes to re­act to what­ever is thrown at us in the next races.”

Mercedes mo­tor­sport chief Toto Wolff had a sim­i­larly cau­tious ap­proach re­gard­ing Hamil­ton.

“The win in front of his home crowd was emo­tion­ally charged and I am sure he is car­ry­ing that en­ergy with him right now. As we see al­most each week­end, he is equalling and match­ing new records – and build­ing a legacy as one of the sport’s great­est driv­ers,” Wolff said.

“Bu­da­pest has al­ways been a good cir­cuit for him but, as he knows, the past is no guar­an­tee of fu­ture per­for­mance. It’s all about the right prepa­ra­tion, hard work and de­liv­er­ing on the day.”

While Mercedes de­lighted in Hamil­ton’s win ahead of team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas, Fer­rari have to pick up the pieces af­ter Kimi Raikko­nen had to set­tle for third and Vet­tel even for sev­enth af­ter both suf­fered late punc­tures.

“There is no rea­son for panic but we have to be care­ful,” said Vet­tel who ap­pears to have run out of steam a lit­tle af­ter fin­ish­ing first or sec­ond in the first six races be­fore miss­ing the podium in three of the fol­low­ing win­less four.

Vet­tel won in Hun­gary two years ago and will hope that the trend con­tin­ues that no driver wins two races in a row this sea­son.

Fer­rari boss Ser­gio Mar­chionne has urged “an in­stant re­ac­tion” and team prin­ci­pal Mau­r­izio Ar­riv­abene also hopes they can re­bound in Hun­gary.

“The hard fact is that we lost a lot of points in both the con­struc­tors’ and driv­ers’ cham­pi­onships. We leave here, set on im­prov­ing quickly, with hu­mil­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion.” – dpa

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