Hamilton eyes clean sweep as grid penalty threat looms

MONTREAL • Lewis Hamilton believes that there is trouble in store for his Formula One World Championship bid despite consecutive victories that put him on course to lead the race for the title by the time his home grand prix arrives.

Back-to-back wins in Monaco and Canada have taken the Briton to just nine points behind Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes team-mate and the championship leader.

The momentum is with Hamilton now after a stuttering start to the season and, with Azerbaijan and Austria to come next, he is preparing for a glorious return to the British Grand Prix next month.

But he will need a substantial buffer as the mechanical problems that haunted the start to his season may yet resurface.

He is well into his supply of engines, limited to five a season by Formula One's restrictive rules.

Once he goes over that limit, he faces grid penalties as severe as starting from last place.

He has also been reprimanded twice for misconduct. One more and he faces another grid penalty.

"That's still the goal (to lead the world title race by Silverstone), but I also know I have fewer engines, so I know beyond the (summer) break it is likely I will need to take a sixth engine," Hamilton said. "I know that at some stage I am going to start last.

"So I know there will be that joker that will come along and play an integral part at a race weekend. If we are really lucky and I look after the engines, hopefully I won't have to do that, but we will see.

"It would be amazing to go to Silverstone and have the performance we had (in Canada). But I need to win every race."

Even though Mercedes have the superior car, it has been a season littered with problems and clashes between Hamilton and Rosberg - as was the case on Sunday in Canada where the pair banged wheels as Rosberg was forced off the track.

The German finished fifth, complaining of brake problems and low fuel.

In the space of two races, Rosberg's lead over his team-mate has been slashed by 34 points and a run of four straight wins this season has now become a run of three weak performances.

Hamilton does not think that his team-mate is rattled, but that does not matter as he is at peak form, and his confidence, shaky before Monaco, has returned.

The desire that has propelled him to three world titles is back and Hamilton wants more.

"I want to win every race. It is not a need, it is a desire and it has shown once again I am just as focused as any of the guys here," he said. "I didn't make any mistakes (in Canada) and that's comforting to see that focus and being that confident and comfortable in the car."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton eyes clean sweep as grid penalty threat looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe