‘Flawless’ Hamil­ton calls on ri­vals to give him more of a bat­tle for ti­tle

Win in Hun­gary puts Bri­ton five be­hind Schu­macher record Cham­pion moves to top of stand­ings ahead of Sil­ver­stone

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Formula One - By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamil­ton de­liv­ered one of the most crush­ing vic­to­ries in recent For­mula One his­tory – and then called on his un­der-per­form­ing ri­vals to raise their game so he does not cruise to a sev­enth world cham­pi­onship.

So em­phatic was Hamil­ton’s per­for­mance at the Hun­garor­ing, tak­ing him to the top of the ti­tle stand­ings for the first time this sea­son, that he could af­ford to stop for new tyres to post the fastest lap and claim a bonus point.

Be­fore that change of rub­ber with four of the 70 laps re­main­ing, Hamil­ton held a half-minute ad­van­tage over Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen, was even fur­ther ahead of Valt­teri Bot­tas in iden­ti­cal Mercedes ma­chin­ery, and had lapped Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, a man he once con­sid­ered a cham­pi­onship ri­val. Not any­more.

Hamil­ton’s fastest lap was more than a se­cond quicker than Bot­tas, 2½seconds faster than Ver­stap­pen, and al­most four seconds faster than Vet­tel.

He now heads to the Bri­tish Grand Prix at Sil­ver­stone in a fort­night five points clear of Bot­tas – who fin­ished a dis­ap­point­ing third – and 30 ahead of run­ner-up Ver­stap­pen. So, is Hamil­ton’s march to­wards Michael Schu­machBy

Lift­ing stan­dards: Lewis Hamil­ton was supreme off his marks yes­ter­day er’s record cham­pi­onship col­lec­tion in dan­ger of be­com­ing a pro­ces­sion?

“Not from my seat, no,” he said. “We are work­ing our a---- off and we are go­ing to con­tinue to do that. Look, I don’t know what is go­ing to hap­pen over these next races.

“It was a flawless ef­fort from our team this week­end, and in all ar­eas we de­liv­ered, so it was dif­fi­cult for the oth­ers to com­pete.

“But I en­joy bat­tling other teams, and I am hope­ful we will still find some chal­lenges up ahead. Would I like more of a bat­tle from the oth­ers? Ab­so­lutely.”

How­ever, given Mercedes’ im­pres­sive per­for­mance this sea­son – the Sil­ver Ar­rows are primed to win seven con­sec­u­tive driver and team ti­tles – Hamil­ton’s sole cham­pi­onship chal­lenge is set to come from Bot­tas.

While the 30-year-old Finn took ad­van­tage of an out-of-sorts Hamil­ton to win the first race in Aus­tria, he has been blown away in the en­su­ing rounds. This is their fourth sea­son to­gether at Mercedes and dur­ing that pe­riod Hamil­ton has won 33 races to Bot­tas’s eight. Hamil­ton’s 86th ca­reer tri­umph, which came a day af­ter his land­mark 90th ca­reer pole, now moves him to within only five of Schu­macher’s win record. With seven races to come in just nine weeks there is ev­ery chance Hamil­ton will have top­pled the Ger­man’s tally – one which many thought could stand the test of time – be­fore the close of au­tumn.

“In round one I was hit by mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent punches that I was not ready for,” Hamil­ton said. “But I re­fo­cused and the last two races have been fan­tas­tic. I have been on point this week­end. I need to keep it up.” Fol­low­ing a del­uge an hour be­fore the start, the race be­gan in greasy con­di­tions. Hamil­ton was supreme off his marks, dom­i­nat­ing the drag race down to the open­ing bend. He was three seconds clear of the field at the end of lap one and al­most nine ahead when he stopped for slick tyres two laps later. Bot­tas’s chal­lenge fal­tered af­ter he fell to sev­enth fol­low­ing a poor get­away. Ver­stap­pen col­lided with the bar­ri­ers on his way to the grid, but fol­low­ing an ex­pert re­pair job by his Red Bull crew, the Dutch­man was able to start from his grid slot of sev­enth, be­fore mov­ing up to se­cond and hold­ing off Bot­tas in a tense fi­nale.

Hamil­ton took a knee be­fore yes­ter­day’s race, and, as in pre­vi­ous weeks, he was joined by some driv­ers. But some stood and, again, some were late. It was a messy spec­ta­cle that Hamil­ton urged the sport to get a grip of. “Mov­ing for­wards, we need to speak with For­mula One and they’ve got to do a bet­ter job,” he said. “It was such a rush. Us get­ting out of the car, run­ning over, quickly tak­ing the knee. They need to do more. My dream is that one day the other driv­ers come around to it and if we get to the last race and we’re all kneel­ing down and show­ing that we’re united that will be beau­ti­ful.”

Lance Stroll fin­ished fourth for Rac­ing Point ahead of Red Bull’s Alexan­der Al­bon, with Vet­tel sixth.

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