Lewis Hamilton hailed the feeling of leading the championship for the first time this year as “empowering” following his triumph at the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton became the first driver to win consecutive races this season after he followed up his victory in Belgium with a crushing display at the home of rival Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari team on Sunday.
The Englishman has moved three points ahead of Vettel, who finished third, with Valtteri Bottas splitting the title rivals at Monza.
Hamilton has won three of the last four grands prix – a run which started at July’s British Grand Prix – to move to the summit of the championship for the first time since this stage one year ago.
Hamilton lost his battle to Nico Rosberg last term, but on current form and with seven rounds remaining, it would now take a brave person to bet against the British driver marching to a fourth title.
“It’s an empowering feeling because it has been a constant search and battle for perfection which is what has been needed to overhaul the Ferraris as they have been exceptional all year long,” Hamilton said.
“I definitely feel like I have found more heart and passion within myself in the last three or four races. Silverstone was an empowering weekend and that has kind of sparked a forest fire in me and that is hopefully reflecting in my driving.
“While I feel like I always drive with my heart – my heart is really the engine, the power and the force behind what I do – my mind is like the rudder, and I feel like it has been steering me in the right direction.”
Twenty-four hours after Hamilton turned in a wet-weather masterclass to surpass Michael Schumacher’s all-time pole position record, the Mercedes driver held off the chasing pack on the long run down to turn one at Monza and from there never looked back.
The passionate Tifosi jeered Hamilton as he collected his winner’s trophy, but the Brit, who finished 36 seconds clear of Vettel, was not fazed by the boos from the record Italian crowd. He even claimed he drowned out their disdain by recalling the lyrics of a song he had written.
“I had a real nice song playing in my head so the boos kind of went over my head,” Hamilton, 32, added. “It was one of my own, so you won’t know it.
“It is to be expected in Italy and over the last 10 years it has been common to have the boos if a Ferrari driver is not on the top step of the podium.
“Inevitably you are going to be the enemy and the villain here if you are the one stopping the Ferraris. But some days I am happy to be the villain.
“I just tried to remain respectful. I admire their passion, and they feel like football fans here – the aggressive ones – but is all in the name of love for the red car.”