Lewis Hamilton says he wants to make the final five races of the season the best of his career as he seeks to maintain his World Championship lead over Nico Rosberg.
Twenty-two points behind his Mercedes team-mate heading into Sunday’s Singapore GP, Hamilton ended it three points clear by winning the race for the second time after Rosberg retired.
The problem Rosberg encountered, a wiring loom failure on his car’s steering column, was precisely the sort of niggle both Silver Arrows cars have fallen prey to this season. As a consequence, fortunes have veered this way and that – a trend Hamilton, of course, is keenly aware of.
Which is why, despite now claiming back-to-back victories – the first time that’s happened since May – and also saying he’s back to his best form, Hamilton is batting aside the suggestion he’s building an unstoppable head of steam.
“Momentum is not something I generally think about because it can be snatched away straight away. Look at Nico,” Hamilton said in the early hours of Monday morning following his seventh win of the season.
“He’s had good results and momentum but then one DNF and it changes things. And I’ve had that experience in the past.
“You just have to take it one race at a time and we don’t know what to expect. But in terms of performance, I’m happy that I’m back to being back at my best in terms of getting those pole positions, making sure I’m really utilizing, maximising, on those races.
“Today, I really felt that I covered all the areas and did a solid job.”
Lewis Hamilton has overtaken his team mate in the drivers’ championship after Nico Rosberg retired at Singapore, but says he’s determined to stay focussed
The 29-year-old added: “I want to make sure these next five races, if I don’t do any more races in my whole life as good, these next five races will be the ones.”
Hamilton is well-known for his relish of a straight fight, but the chance of winning his latest bout with Rosberg was denied him just as soon as the latter’s stricken W05 was pushed off the grid.
Starting the race from the pitlane, the German suffered gearbox and clutch problems and climbed no higher than 18th before he pulled up outside his garage on lap 13.
By that stage Hamilton was in control. “It was just a different race. It was still a hard race in itself, looking after tyres and all those things, so it’s still not easy leading the race,” he said.
“But it’s just different to when you’re having someone else, or another team, just breathing hard down your neck.
“With Nico not there today, it took a whole weight off. You could enjoy it, but in a different way.
“But I was really wanting to have that close battle: having to push and hopefully I could eke out an extra lap on Nico and pit stops really come into play. So the pit entry, your pit stop, stopping at the box, all those things, your pit exit, your out lap, your three laps, all those things come into play.
“This one was a little bit more relaxed. Coming into the pit lane, I took a much safer entry. I personally enjoy the intensity.”
Not that Hamilton had it all his own way. Having built a commanding lead by the halfway point, a Safety Car period meant he then had to do it all again – only more so, this time, because of his three-stop strategy.
In contrast, the pursuing Sebastian Vettel was running to the end and took the lead when Hamilton was forced in with eight laps to go. But with fresh rubber, he was back ahead just one lap later.
“I thought he was going to give me a hard time,” Hamilton added.
“Looking at the replay, it looked so simple. But in the car, it was a little bit more than just a simple overtake. It was fun though.”