Lewis Hamilton looking for momentum
The Mercedes driver is not lacking for form as he chases teammate Rosberg but could do with a clean weekend to get back on track
Momentum. Engineers will understand it as one thing, drivers as a completely different beast. While momentum for the mechanic is a branch of physics, for the man in the cockpit it's not an exact science. It's about form, or lack of it. It's about feeling and mood and what's going on under the helmet.
Lewis Hamilton isn't desperate for form, if the German Grand Pix is anything to go by. He roared up the grid to make sure the damage to his championship challenge wasn't as bad as it might have been. His 20th to third is some achievement, even given his superior car.
The car seemed anything but superior when his brakes gave out in qualifying. It left him having to chase after an incident-free Nico Rosberg for the third time this season. At least he got on the podium, but had to listen to the German anthem as his teammate and rival extended his lead in the championship to 14 points.
What Hamilton would like is the momentum that Rosberg enjoys after the weekend. He'd certainly like to have the serene weekend Rosberg had. The Briton told reporters heading to this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix that he "never liked to win easily".
"It's not been a smooth-sailing season for me, as it has been mostly for the guy I'm racing against," Hamilton opined. "But I don't want it easy. Some don't mind that. But I do like a challenge." Oh come on Lewis, really? Although it's a sign of a truly great racing driver that you can turn disaster into relative triumph, all drivers, great or not, would prefer an easy life.
It might explain his comments virtually in the same breath as those above. "A clean weekend is what I am looking for. Some points, going into the [summer] break to get some rest time and then get back into the last part of the season. Maybe I will go and rub the Buddha's belly or whatever it is. Try all the different religions to change my luck."
So is he bothered? Of course he is. Perhaps instead of rubbing the Buddha's belly he should look at the stats for Hungary. He's won there four times in his career, a better-than 50 per cent average. It's obviously a track he likes a lot. The question is, can his car rise to the occasion too? Don't be surprised if Hamilton has a little look at his brakes before qualifying.
Then again, Rosberg hasn't had it all his own way with the machinery this year. Silverstone was a very different story, with the German not finishing the race and Hamilton thrilling his home fans. With the drivers, and of course the cars, being so closely matched, it might well come down to which driver has had his car give up on him least.
Even their boss, Toto Wolff, says this might be the case: "I think retirements are going to play a crucial role, the racing between the two is so close so I would be very surprised if it doesn't come down to Abu Dhabi - to the famous double points.
"Because even if you are 30 points behind you can turn it around in Abu Dhabi."
The double points for the last race of the season is not something he likes very much, but all the teams agreed to it, and those who disapprove will have to concede it will keep the title open until the last moment. To the powers that be, the TV audiences and revenues will continue to be strong.
That won't be much consolation to whichever of these Mercedes drivers lose out. As Wolff says: "I don't think the winner will care but the one who might lose the title on double points might need some psychological treatment."
For the moment though, it's important to put down a marker in Hungary. Getting your nose ahead of your rival is important at any stage, but doing it as we head to the mid-season summer break is even more crucial. It gives you momentum that lasts for a while.