Lewis Hamilton's in the zone after winning in Hungary
Lewis Hamilton is in dreamland after winning in Hungary to take a major psychological step towards sealing a fifth Formula One world championship.
The Englishman ruled from start-to-finish here yeterday with a commanding performance to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel, extending his lead to 24 points.
Hamilton laid the foundations for his triumph by blowing away the opposition to secure pole in the wet and, in normal conditions on Sunday, his victory was never in doubt. He crossed the line 17 seconds clear.
Vettel recovered from fourth to second as he executed a different tyre strategy to Hamilton and Co, while passing Valtteri Bottas with just five laps remaining.
He also escaped damage when Bottas ran into the back of his Ferrari as the Finn defended his position at the second turn.
Bottas, and his wounded Mercedes, would drop to fifth as he collided with Daniel Ricciardo, in the latter stages, too, but for his team-mate Hamilton there would be no such dramas as he sealed his fifth win of the season.
“We could have only dreamt to be in the position that we are in now,” Hamilton, who also won in Germany last weekend, said.
“I am really, really happy to be going into the break with back-to-back wins, and that boost will last a long time for our team, and that is encouraging for everyone.”
The twisty Hungaroring circuit, situated on the outskirts of Budapest, should have been the venue for a slam-dunk Vettel victory, given the track is not suited to Hamilton’s Mercedes machinery.
But following Hamilton’s win - and with the Briton traditionally at his peerless best after the summer break - he could be excused for feeling he has at least one finger on his fourth championship trophy in five years.
“Absolutely not, and it is far too early to think about that when you consider the ups and downs we have had this year,” he replied.
“I don’t believe there is ever a time when you think you have got your hand on the title. We still have a long way to go.
“A lot can happen moving forward, but what is important is that we continue to keep the pressure on and work as we have done until now.”
Hamilton’s victory is another blow to Vettel, who has lost 32 points to his rival in the space of only eight days.
To his credit, he did his best to damage the limitation after his off-colour qualifying display, but Ferrari had the quicker car this weekend.
“Last year we lost the championship in the second half of the year because our car wasn’t quick enough, but I am quite confident that we can improve,” a spirited Vettel said.
“We have more to unleash.”
Hamilton’s win should, however, come with a warning: no driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004 has triumphed here in Hungary and gone on to take the championship.
But, for now, that will be of little concern to Hamilton, who will spend the first of three weeks off, on holiday with his mum, Brenda, and other family members.
“I don’t have a wife and kids so I am still in a fun period,” Hamilton, 33, added with a smile.
“My best friend has got a stag do during the summer break, so that is going to be interesting, too!”
Kimi Raikkonen finished third for Ferrari ahead of Ricciardo, while Bottas was later handed a 10-second penalty and two points on his licence following his collision with the Australian.