Lewis Hamilton reveals meaning of Hungary GP pole which should worry rivals

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media. Canada June 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaks to reporters in the press conference. Montreal June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton made the admission that he had not been at his best for north of a year, that was until his pole lap in Hungary.

The race may not have turned out as Hamilton had hoped as he dropped from pole to P4 in a matter of corners on the opening lap of the Hungaroring, but he believes a message was sent the day before.

On Saturday, Hamilton had kicked into top gear to capture his first Formula 1 pole position since the penultimate round of the 2021 season.

Hungary pole was Lewis Hamilton back to his best

With runaway F1 2023 Championship leader Max Verstappen failing to improve on his final Q3 lap, Hamilton took the opportunity to set a time a mere 0.003s faster to clinch pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton ultimately could do nothing to halt the Verstappen charge on race day as that ninth Hungarian GP victory eluded him, an achievement which would have given him yet another F1 record, but he at least extended an existing one with an 104th career pole.

And that, Hamilton says, is what happens when he returns to top form.

“I haven’t been at my best for over a year,” he told reporters after the race. “So I think yesterday [Saturday] felt like it was me being back to my best.”

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Over to Mercedes to exploit the best of Lewis Hamilton

The seven-time champ has been unable to add to his daunting tally of 103 career wins since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but it is not as if he has had many genuine opportunities to do so.

Since that 2021 campaign, Mercedes have claimed only one victory, that coming at the 2022 Sao Paulo GP as George Russell took the chequered flag and Hamilton made it a Mercedes one-two, but this ground effect era in Formula 1 so far has been a story of Mercedes struggling to hit their former heights.

After the disappointments of 2022, once more Mercedes have not allowed Hamilton nor Russell to put up a title fight in 2023, and at times in this rocky period Hamilton has looked a driver worn down by it all.

But, give him a sniff of success, and as his Hungary performance showed, he is still more than capable of hitting those highest of highs.

Assuming Hamilton does sign a new contract with Mercedes beyond F1 2023, it is then once more over to Mercedes to use these little reminders of Hamilton brilliance as a source of even greater inspiration to put him back in the title hunt.

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