Formula One: Hamilton to unleash bid for sixth win to overhaul Vettel

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton walking his dogs at the Hungaroring track. The British driver trails Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by just one point in the World Championship.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton walking his dogs at the Hungaroring track. The British driver trails Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by just one point in the World Championship. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BUDAPEST • If Lewis Hamilton wins a record sixth Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, he will head off for Formula One's annual European summer holiday on top of the drivers' standings.

The three-time world champion could also draw level with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in the record books with his 68th pole position in tomorrow's qualifying.

The Briton, just one point behind leader Sebastian Vettel (177 points) of Ferrari after 10 of this year's 20 races, has already won a record five times at the tight, dusty, slow and technical Hungaroring circuit.

After his supreme performance in dominating the British Grand Prix, Hamilton will arrive full of confidence, but mindful of the dangers of complacency, thanks to a timely reminder from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

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The Finn has warned his team not to believe that their one-two finish at Silverstone signalled they had overhauled Ferrari, even though they lead the constructors' standings on 330 points, while the Italian outfit are on 275.

"We can't get that kind of thing to our mind that we are quicker," said Bottas. "We don't want to do that. We want to be feeling on our back foot, we want to be able to improve the car and we know it is very track-specific.

"That's a fact because we've had quite high-speed circuits now - the last two races. Baku was a special one, but the next race in Budapest is completely different.

"It's got very slow-speed corners, really high temperatures, so we are not going to be too confident there.

"We know that we have still work to do."

Bottas' caution is timely as Vettel and Ferrari are sure to launch a fightback and will be focused on preventing Hamilton and Mercedes securing any kind of advantage.

Vettel has led the championship since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but has not won in four outings since the Monaco event in May. He was, however, not too concerned.

"The last couple of races weren't fantastic, but we know the car is strong, so that's good news. We know we can fight for victory," the German told a press conference in Budapest yesterday.

"This year has been very good so far, so overall it's positive. On paper this should be a good race for us.

"Mercedes have had weekends like we had at Silverstone so I'm not stressing too much.

"I love this circuit, it will be important to make many points."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

F1 HUNGARIAN GP
Practice 1 & 2: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 3.55pm & 7.55pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton to unleash bid for sixth win to overhaul Vettel'. Print Edition | Subscribe