By Alan Baldwin
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton is ready to meditate on his success as he goes into Formula One’s August break on the back of eight wins in the first 12 races.
The five-times world champion has never had a season so good but the Mercedes driver expects a stiffer challenge from Red Bull and Ferrari when he returns to the track in Belgium at the end of the month.
Hamilton told reporters after winning Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix that he would take a different approach to his holidays to ensure he came back stronger than ever.
Meditation, and reading more books, are part of the recovery plan.
The 34-year-old said he was still not fully fit after struggling with a bug that “wiped me out” at the German Grand Prix weekend before Hungary and he needed to sort that out.
“I think in the past I’ve gone into this break and I was 100% fit and I could go and party for multiple days and then go into the recovery and stuff,” he said. “But I’m actually not in that place at the moment.
“I’ve got to make sure I get my energy back.”
The Briton said he would be spending a lot of time with family and planned to change his habits to become less nocturnal.
“I like staying up late because I don’t really sleep a huge amount. So I want to try and focus on shifting that and waking up early and seeing the sunrise wherever I am,” he said.
“I might try meditation, just a few different things. A healthier lifestyle and my close, good friends around me will be doing the same. I’ll be doing a lot more reading. I’m excited about it.”
Hamilton has a 62 point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas with nine races remaining, compared to a 24 point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the same point last year, and a sixth title looks in the bag.
Never before has he won more than seven of the opening 12 rounds, but he is not about to rest on any laurels.
“Eight wins in the first half of the season is obviously exceptional But I look at those races and say ‘eight out of 12, there’s still some missing’,” he said. “So how did we miss those ones, how were we not perfect on those weekends?”
The Briton asked everyone in his team to email him with suggestions on where he could improve, and he said he would do the same.
“I want the second half to be even stronger than this first half,” he said.
Hamilton has historically picked up pace after the break but Hungary indicated he will not have it all his own way.
While Budapest brought an 81st career win – 10 short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record – it took a strategy gamble and some superlative driving to reel in pole-sitter and leader Max Verstappen.
Verstappen had won two of the previous three races, has finished in the top five for 21 races in a row and his Honda-powered Red Bull is getting better and better.
“All of a sudden we’ve had this big step up from the Red Bulls and now we’ve got a really good battle on our hands,” said Hamilton. “And it looks like it’s here to stay.
“I think Ferrari will come back into play in some of these other long races like Spa and Monza. They will be quick on the straights and there’s not a lot of corners. Those places I think they will be really strong.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)