SILVERSTONE // Lewis Hamilton will push himself physically through Formula One's summer break to ensure he has the stamina for the title fight. After 11 races of the season, the sport now enjoys a short sojourn before the F1 circus pitches up in Valencia for the European Grand Prix in three weeks' time. For the drivers, it is a chance to rest up, clear their minds and recharge the batteries as they are free from testing or sponsorship commitments.
Hamilton will initially take a couple of days off, but then it will be a case of focusing on his training regime as he is determined to remain the self-styled fittest driver in F1. "I'll have some time to recover from this race and the first half of the season," said the McLaren star who currently holds a five-point lead after Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix. "We've no commitments outside of the racing world, so we can just focus on our training, our fitness to make sure we are ready for the second half. There's still a long way to go, so I'm going to make sure I work very hard and that physically I am well prepared.
"I want to make sure we keep up with the performance we have." It was a point emphasised by team boss Ron Dennis who said: "Lewis is very fit anyway. But he has definitely set himself up for a more intense training programme for the next three weeks." Dennis acknowledged Hamilton would perhaps prefer no break at all, which will be the case for next year's calendar. He added: "When a driver is doing well all he wants to do is get in the car and race.
"That's understandable, but he'd be the first to recognise this break is absolutely essential for the team, mechanics and all the people who travel. "They don't get the right amount of time with their families, and this gives them an opportunity to have at least one week where they are not at the office or workshops. We will have to accommodate that by rotating people. They will not be expected to go right through the season.
"Lewis will have his wish next year - he'll be racing every other week at least." Hamilton was denied at least second place, and potentially a third successive race victory given Felipe Massa's engine blow out on his Ferrari three laps from home, by a puncture on lap 41. The 23-year-old eventually finished fifth, but with Massa's demise, he managed to marginally extend his title lead, with Kimi Raikkonen now his closest challenger. The chequered flag was instead taken for the first time by Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn becoming F1's 100th winner.
Although fortuitous as Kovalainen was clearly third best behind Hamilton and Massa, it capped a superb week after confirmation he is to remain with the team for next season. "Heikki is going to benefit from knowing he has a secure position next year," added Dennis. "It was the right time to tell him, to show him we have belief in his abilities because clearly he is super quick, no question about that."
* PA Sport