Lewis Hamilton says title lead not real yet until engine penalty taken
Hamilton still sees himself as the chaser with engine penalty looming after summer break; Rosberg insists battle will remain close
By James Galloway at Hockenheim
Last Updated: 01/08/16 3:43pm
Lewis Hamilton has claimed his position at the head of the Drivers' Championship is false until he serves an expected engine penalty after the summer break.
The reigning champion claimed the leadership of the title race from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for the first time this season with his fifth win in the last six races last weekend in Hungary.
Hamilton now leads by six points with the opportunity to stretch further clear in this Sunday's German GP, the final race before F1's summer break
However, with the prospect of at least a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding power unit elements looming, Hamilton does not consider himself to be at least on level terms yet.
"I feel like I'm still chasing," he said at Hockenheim. "I've got less engines so I know I've still got a steep hill up ahead of me. Whilst I'm ahead, I'm not really ahead, because I'm going to start last somewhere - at least in one race.
"So I'm actually still behind, but very close."
Since Rosberg extended his winning run from the end of last season to seven races by winning 2016's opening four rounds, the German driver has denied Hamilton victory just once in the last two months.
Asked what had caused the shift, Hamilton replied: "Nico has been driving just as well he has all year, it's just I haven't had any problems on the car in the last six races.
"Apart from one weekend [Baku] where Saturday wasn't good for one and then in the race I had that problem with the car. Otherwise, I've been driving exactly the same as in the previous part of the year, I just haven't had a gearbox failure or engine problems, which has been nice."
But having taken 11 races to reach 2016's championship summit, Hamilton played down the significance of retaining it going in to the four-week summer break.
"Certainly entering the summer break not 43 points behind is important, but it doesn't really make [much difference]," said Hamilton.
"Everyone's asking 'how will it feel this weekend?' It doesn't feel any different. I want to win this weekend - just as I wanted to win last weekend.
"If anything, I want to win more this weekend because last weekend was a pretty s*** weekend in general in terms of performance and I want to improve on that. I know I can, because I did it in Silverstone and previous races. So that's my intention and goal this weekend."
Rosberg has stressed he is not spooked by the loss of the championship lead and predicted he and Hamilton will remain closely-matched all through the second half of the season.
"It's always very close between us and it's always going to be very close," he told Sky Sports News HQ.
"In Hungary, he got it at the start. Everywhere else, l had been stronger all weekend."