By Abhishek Takle
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton still sees himself as hunter rather than hunted in the Formula One title race despite victory in Hungary putting him in the overall lead for the first time this season.
The Briton seized the lead from Mercedes team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg after an unprecedented fifth victory at the Hungaroring on Sunday that opened up a six-point lead over the German.
With half the 21-race season now completed and Germany’s Hockenheim circuit next up on Sunday, Hamilton, who has often spoken of how he thrives in adversity, still sees himself in hot pursuit.
“I’m just still in the same mentality of chasing, I’m still chasing,” he told reporters.
“(It’s) been great to be able to come back with fewer engines, with the struggle that we had at the beginning of the year, so I’m very, very proud of that but conscious that there’s still a long way to go.”
Hamilton trailed Rosberg by a massive 43 points after May’s Spanish Grand Prix following a spate of reliability problems in the early part of the season.
The 31-year-old, who singled out that Barcelona race and the collision between the Mercedes pair as the low point of his season, has hit back with a run of five wins from the last six races including victory in the last three.
His early season troubles have left him short of power unit components, however, and Hamilton knows he may have to take a grid penalty or start from the back of the grid at some point later in the year.
In order to limit the damage to his title hopes, Hamilton is aiming for maximum points with races like Silverstone two weeks ago, where he claimed a sensational win on home soil after dominating all weekend.
“I really would love to come out of the next race with another result like this so that when I do go to Spa or Monza, whichever one it is that I have to take my penalty…that it’s minimum damage,” he said.
“So I need to make sure I stay on it, like Silverstone weekends, from now on.”
Hockenheim is the last race before the August break, with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa and then Italy’s Monza following on after that.
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)