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I'd like more of a challenge from rivals, says Hamilton



Cruise control: Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line

Cruise control: Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line


Lewis Hamilton on the podium in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton on the podium in Hungary

Getty Images

Cruise control: Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line

Lewis Hamilton delivered one of the most crushing victories in recent Formula One history - and then called on his under-performing rivals to raise their game so he does not cruise to a seventh world championship.

So emphatic was Hamilton's performance at the Hungaroring - one that took him to the top of the title standings for the first time this season - that he could afford to stop for new tyres in order to post the fastest lap and claim a bonus point.

Before that change of rubber with four of the 70 laps remaining, Hamilton held a half-minute advantage over Red Bull's Max Verstappen, was even further ahead of Valtteri Bottas in identical Mercedes machinery, and had lapped Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - a man he once considered a championship rival. Not anymore.

Hamilton's fastest tour was more than a second quicker than Bottas, an eye-watering 2.5 seconds faster than Verstappen, and almost four seconds speedier than Vettel.

Hamilton now heads to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a fortnight's time five points clear of Bottas, who finished a disappointing third, and 30 ahead of runner-up Verstappen. So, is Hamilton's march towards Michael Schumacher's record in danger of becoming a procession?

"Not from my seat, no," he said. "We are working our a***s off and we are going to continue to do that. Look, I don't know what is going to happen over these next races.

"It was a flawless effort from our team this weekend, and in all areas we delivered so it was difficult for the others to compete.

"But I enjoy battling other teams, and I am hopeful we will still find some challenges up ahead. Would I like more of a battle from the others? Absolutely."

However, given Mercedes' impressive performance this season - the Silver Arrows primed to win an unheard-of seven consecutive driver and team titles - Hamilton's sole championship challenge is set to come in the form of Bottas.

While the 30-year-old Finn took advantage of an out-of-sorts Hamilton to win the first race in Austria, he has been blown away in the ensuing rounds. This is their fourth season together at Mercedes and during that period Hamilton has won 33 races to Bottas' eight.

Hamilton's 86th career triumph, which came a day after his landmark 90th career pole, now moves him to within only five of Schumacher's win record, too. With seven races to come in just nine weeks, there is every chance Hamilton will have toppled Schumacher's tally - one which many thought could stand the test of time - before the close of autumn.

"In round one I was hit by multiple different punches that I was not ready for," continued Hamilton. "But I refocused and the last two races have been fantastic. I have been on point this weekend. I need to keep it up."

Hamilton took a knee ahead of the race and, as in previous weeks, he was joined by some drivers. But some stood and, again, some were late. It was a messy spectacle that Hamilton urged the sport to get a grip of.

"Moving forwards we need to speak with Formula One and they've got to do a better job," he said. "It was such a rush. Us getting out of the car, running over, quickly taking the knee. They need to do more.

"My dream is that one day the other drivers come around to it and if we get to the last race and we're all kneeling down and showing that we're united that will be beautiful."

Lance Stroll finished fourth for Racing Point ahead of Red Bull's Alexander Albon, with Vettel sixth.

Formula One standings

FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary

Final Times after Race: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 36mins 12.473secs, 2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:36:21.175, 3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:36:21.925, 4 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:37:10.052, 5 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 1:37:30.789, 6 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari at 1 lap, 7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point at 1 lap, 8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault at 1 lap, 9 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 at 1 lap, 10 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren at 1 lap, 11 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari at 1 lap, 12 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia AlphaTauri at 1 lap, 13 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren at 1 lap, 14 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault at 1 lap, 15 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 at 1 lap, 16 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 17 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 18 George Russell (Gbr) Williams at 1 lap, 19 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams at 5 laps

Not Classified: 20 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 16 laps completed

World Championship Standings

Drivers: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 63pts, 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 58, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 33, 4 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 26, 5 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 22, 6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 22, 7 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 18, 8 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 18, 9 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 14, 10 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 9

Manufacturers: 1 Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team 121pts, 2 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 55, 3 McLarenF1 Team 40, 4 BWT Racing Point F1 Team 40, 5 Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow 27, 6 Renault DP World F1 Team 12, 7 Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 7, 8 Haas F1 F1 Team 2, 9 Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen 2, 10 Williams Racing 0

Belfast Telegraph