LONDON • A resurgent Lewis Hamilton says that he is "riding a wave" of positive energy into the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend - while his faltering rival Nico Rosberg has tetchily denied that he is feeling the pressure of defending his slender championship lead.
Hamilton, with 167 points, has narrowed the gap on his Mercedes team-mate to one point with victories in four of the past five races. But, despite having almost all of his 43-point lead eaten away after winning the first four races, Rosberg maintained that he had been indisputably the outstanding driver of the season.
"For me, we can all agree that so far I've had the best season of all the drivers," he said. "That's the fact which I'm focusing on."
The German also bristled at suggestions that Hamilton's resurgence had left him looking nervously over his shoulder - at a track where he has never finished on the podium in his 11-year Formula One career.
"It doesn't feel any different to any other weekend," he said. "In general, I don't look at the big picture, because the best approach for me to win races is just to focus on the weekend at hand."
Points Lewis Hamilton has made up on championship leader Nico Rosberg over the past five races.
While the German was fending off accusations that he could not handle the pressure of the championship battle, a serene Hamilton - fresh from victory in his home grand prix at Silverstone - was oozing confidence.
"The last two races, when you go from one strength to another, is an incredibly empowering, motivating and inspiring feeling," he enthused.
"The last race was the greatest week I have had as far as I can remember. So I am hopefully riding that good wave into this weekend and I plan to catch the next good one.
"I surf, and sometimes you have to wait for the wave to come. Sometimes you fall when you get up on the wave, but when you catch it, it is the greatest feeling to be on top of the wave. That is very much how it is right now."
Such has been the Englishman's superiority since the Spanish Grand Prix that he has taken 110 points from the past five races to Rosberg's 68.
Meanwhile, Rosberg has signed a new contract that will keep him at Mercedes with Hamilton until the end of the 2018 season, the team said yesterday.
"We are delighted to announce that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team has signed a two-year contract extension with Nico Rosberg for the 2017 and 2018 Formula One seasons," Mercedes confirmed in a statement.
"Nico has been a core member of the Silver Arrows since the team returned to the sport in 2010 and has played a crucial role in the team's success in that time."
Rosberg joined Mercedes from Williams in 2010 and has won 19 grands prix for the team, including five this year.
He has helped Mercedes to the manufacturers' title for the last two seasons.
Three-time world champion Hamilton signed a three-year deal with the team through to the end of the 2018 season in May last year.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
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