Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton. SMP Images - Jean Michel Le Meur

Hamilton on the chase

DESPITE A dominant victory in Germany on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton insists that he will let the pace of his McLaren do the talking rather than predict his chances of beating Sebastian Vettel to the world championship.

Even though Vettel finished only fourth, he still has 216 points to Hamilton’s 134, with his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber between them on 139. Nine races remain, with a maximum of 225 points up for grabs.

“We’re not really looking at the percentage chance of winning the title,” Hamilton said. “Coming into this weekend, I said we would just take it one race at a time. We never really anticipated being so competitive, but we’ve just had a win and it’s a massive positive for us. But there’s still a long, long way to go and it’s about trying to keep doing this, to get some consistency. If I say something now, and then the next race could be a disaster because it’s a very, very hot track in Budapest, we could be in a similar position to Valencia. So I’d rather keep my mouth closed.”

Both McLaren, and Ferrari who won recently at Silverstone courtesy of Sunday’s runner-up Fernando Alonso, have made inroads into the performance advantage that Red Bull enjoyed earlier this season.

“It appears we are ahead of [Ferrari],” Hamilton said, “but we didn’t really think we would be so fast and I’m not sure what we’ve done, because we didn’t take much [that was different] to Germany. I don’t know if it was the conditions. We were competitive in Montreal and in Monaco, but in Valencia, in hot temperatures, we were less competitive. We went to Silverstone with the rule changes, which were a problem for us, and then we came back here to [Germany’s] cool conditions. Now we are there or thereabouts [in terms of being competitive]. But the overall performance of the Red Bulls here was slightly better than ours.

“I was quickest in the first sector and the last sector, but we lost a lot in the middle sector, because we don’t have a DRS rear wing system as efficient as theirs. If we can improve in that area, we could definitely eke ahead of them, so that’s what we need to work on.”

Alonso is also cautious, refusing to make claims about his title chances despite Ferrari’s significant upturn in pace. “It seems that one weekend is good for us in terms of Silverstone, the characteristics of the corners or whatever. This weekend seems good for McLaren, for whatever reason, but Red Bull is always there. It seems that all conditions on most circuits are good for them, so that’s the only difference and I think we need to make another step if we want to be at the same level.”

Red Bull are expected to return to their usual dominance this coming weekend in Hungary, where the higher track temperatures will suit their car better than the Nürburgring’s decidedly cool conditions.

“It is always a plus, no matter what point of the season it is, to be at the front,” Hamilton added. “We are back in the fight. But the next race is going to be another big challenge.”

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