LONDON (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has credited a home victory at Silverstone in July with lighting the inner ‘forest fire’ that helped him blaze a trail back to the top of the Formula One world championship on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver took the overall lead in the standings for the first time in a year at the weekend after following up a tense victory in Belgium with an absolutely dominant win in Italy.
The Briton has won three of the last four races, the triple world champion taking his tally to six for the season while title rival and four times champion Sebastian Vettel has four victories for Ferrari.
“It’s been a real constant search and battle for perfection to overhaul Ferrari,” Hamilton told reporters at Monza after turning a seven point deficit to Vettel into a three point advantage.
“These last few races have been very solid. I felt more heart and passion within myself, I have found more in myself in the last three or four races,” he added.
If Monza may go down as the obvious turning point in the season, the moment Hamilton hit the front, the Briton suggested the really significant moment was further back.
“Silverstone was a real empowering weekend and it kind of sparked a forest fire within me and that’s hopefully reflecting in my driving,” he said.
Hamilton had arrived at Silverstone amid controversy and criticism after he was the only driver to miss a free event in central London.
The show was put on by Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media to bring the sport closer to fans, and the absence of its biggest star went down badly.
He responded by winning his home race for the fourth year in a row, dominating from pole to chequered flag.
That, aside from a setback in Hungary before the August break where he came fourth and Ferrari finished one-two, set the tone.
On Sunday he became the first driver to win two races in a row this year, a day after he broke Michael Schumacher’s all-time pole position record with his 69th.
Singapore is next up in two weeks’ time, with Ferrari tipped to be stronger, and Hamilton said he was determined to keep pushing and give Vettel a taste of his own medicine.
“I am going to apply myself the same as I have these past three or four races and hope I can reverse the picture because earlier in the year it was 20 points between myself and him,” he said. “I want to see if he can have that feeling for a while.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris