Hamilton looking for high five

Source:Reuters Published: 2014-7-25 5:03:02

F1 teams ‘hungry’ for victory

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes GP drives during the German Grand Prix on July 20 in Hockenheim, Germany. Photo: CFP

 Lewis Hamilton may not be ­putting the Buddha into ­Budapest this weekend but he could be tempted to seek divine assistance if luck goes against him in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes Formula One driver needs a win to cut into teammate Nico Rosberg's 14-point championship lead after 10 of the 19 races and Hungary offers the perfect opportunity.

Hamilton has won there four times in the last seven seasons, including the last two, and the Briton shares the record for victories at the slow and twisty Hungaroring with Michael Schumacher.

Rosberg's best result at the circuit, outside Budapest, remains a fourth place with Williams in 2009.

However, Hamilton's season has also been beset by bad luck, with two race retirements and problems such as the front brake disc failure in qualifying that led to him starting last weekend's German Grand Prix from 20th on the grid.

"I'm going there (Hungary) to try and win," he told reporters after finishing third at Hockenheim.

"I just hope that the car sticks together so I can go out and do the job ... I'm not planning on starting from the back there," he added with a laugh.

Hamilton, like most F1 drivers, is a believer in the old adage that you make your own luck in motor racing and he said he would never pray for it.

But it would be nice if some of the bad stuff went away in the last Grand Prix before the three-week European summer shutdown.

"A clean weekend is what I'm looking for, to come away from there with some strong points going into the break, get some rest time and then head back into the last part of the season," he said.

"Maybe I need to go and visit some Indians, go and visit the Buddha, rub the Buddha belly or whatever," joked the Briton, with a big grin.

"Try all the different religions to see if I can get some luck."

Hamilton holds his trophy on the podium after the race. Photo: CFP

Contract extension hope

Hamilton also hopes to agree a new deal with Mercedes this season even though his current contract still has more than a year to run.

"I am sure something will happen this year," the 2008 world champion told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Thursday. "But now is not the time to really focus on that.

"I've made it clear to them that they don't have to worry, I'm not out seeing what else there is for me. Mercedes has been my family since I started F1 so I don't see that changing any time soon."

Rosberg signed a new multi-year contract with the British-based team last week.

A new deal, if of the same three-year duration as the last, would be worth tens of millions. Media estimates have put the Briton's current salary at around 20 million pounds ($33.97 million) a year.

The driver started his career with Mercedes-powered McLaren in 2007 and has been backed by the German manufacturer since he was 13.

He joined the Mercedes team in 2013 and the heavily tattooed driver said he felt like he had "Mercedes imprinted on my chest."

The 29-year-old dismissed with a shrug speculation that Mercedes were also interested in signing quadruple ­champion Sebastian Vettel, who has been having a difficult season, from Red Bull.

Williams danger

While Rosberg will be Hamilton's main rival, with Mercedes having won nine of the 10 races so far, Hungary is more about aerodynamics and ­downforce than having the best engine.

That could put Red Bull more into the mix - although quadruple ­champion Sebastian Vettel has never won in Hungary despite finishing on the podium three times.

Williams - and particularly ­Finland's Valtteri Bottas - have been the team pushing Mercedes ­hardest of late and the revived former ­champions are hoping for another good weekend.

Bottas has been second in the last two races, and third in the one before that, and Hungary has long been seen as a home race for F1's Finnish ­drivers due to linguistic similarities and proximity.

"We know it's not the best circuit for our car but we are working on ­getting more grip in the corners and we have some upgrades that should help as well," said Bottas.

"A good few practice sessions should help us get the setup right.

"There are always a few fans from Finland, it's almost like a Finnish GP, so I hope to pay the fans back with a good result."

Hungary also has happy memories for McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who both took the first wins of their F1 careers at the circuit.

Button has won there twice, most recently in 2011, while Alonso's sole victory was in 2003.

"The Hungaroring is a great track. Everybody thinks of it as a slow circuit, but, out the back, it's got some pretty decent corners ... the sequence of S-bends that make up Turns Eight to 11 are really satisfying to drive," said Button.

"Nonetheless, it's still a circuit where you require lots of downforce and grip, and I think we are making positive steps in that direction."

Azerbaijan to debut

On Friday, organizers announced Azerbaijan's F1 debut, originally planned for next year, has been delayed to 2016 with a "Grand Prix of Europe" scheduled for Baku.

"I am delighted to officially announce that we have signed a contract to bring Formula One racing to Baku in 2016," Azad Rahimov, the country's minister for youth and sport, said in a statement.

However, that would take the calendar over an agreed maximum of 20 races, with that number already accounted for after Mexico announced a five-year deal this week for a race from 2015, unless others are dropped.

The current calendar has 19 races and anything over 20 would require the agreement of all 11 teams.
Newspaper headline: 2008 champion expects new deal

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