Formula 1 News

GP Preview: Super-charged Hamilton ready for Valencia

Thanks to his emphatic win in Montreal, the 27-year-old McLaren driver heads to the European Grand Prix with a two-point lead over Alonso with Vettel one more unit behind.
Thursday, June 21, 2012

VALENCIA, Spain, June 21, 2012 (AFP) - Canadian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton said he was "super-motivated" to produce another strong performance this weekend as he aims to extend his lead in the world championship.

Thanks to his emphatic win in Montreal, the 27-year-old McLaren driver heads to the European Grand Prix with a two-point lead in what has been the sport's most extraordinary start to a season with seven different drivers winning the opening seven races.

That means the top four drivers are separated by just nine points, and Hamilton is well aware of how tight things are and how much of a threat second-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, pose to his title hopes.

However, although the maturing Englishman will be hoping to become the first driver to win two races this season, he remained level-headed and believes consistent driving, rather than wins, will be the key to winning the championship.

"While it's always pleasing to be leading the championship, I'm only two points ahead of Fernando which is nothing, particularly when there is a handful of really strong drivers all separated by a couple of points, so there's still everything to play for," said Hamilton.

"Secondly, the intensity of this year's championship means there's so little breathing space -- we may have won in Canada, but there's an enormous amount of pressure to keep racking up good results at every grand prix.

"I think that consistency, rather than individual strong results, will be the key to winning this world championship, so we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result.

"I'll be heading to Valencia feeling super-motivated to get another strong result and maintain my momentum before we head to Silverstone and the British Grand Prix."

His McLaren team also believe they may have found a solution for Jenson Button, who, in contrast to Hamilton, has been struggling of late, collecting just 20 points since his win in Australia in March.

The two drivers have been driving more or less the same car, and although Button has had his fair share of mechanical issues, the 2009 champion has struggled with his car's setup and been unable to match his team-mate's pace.

However, McLaren's operations director Simon Roberts believe his team may have identified the problem.

"I think Canada was very interesting because fundamentally we run the same car for both drivers and they both have the same parts available," said Roberts.

"Although we allow them to adapt the set-up to their driving style, clearly we had something fundamentally different in terms of the tyre performance and car performance.

"We've been able to actually capitalise on that and there's been a huge amount of work back at the factory analysing the data and just checking that everything was as we thought it was.

"We're pretty sure at the moment that there was nothing untoward with Jenson's car and actually nothing fundamentally wrong with the set-up, but in the subtleties of these cars there are some differences, and I think going to Valencia we are optimistic that we've identified that."

A strong performance from McLaren this weekend could see them overhaul Red Bull in the constructor's standings. The Milton Keynes-based team currently hold a 31-point advantage.

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F1 Standings

Drivers
Teams
1 Nico Rosberg 25
2 Kevin Magnussen 18
3 Jenson Button 15
4 Fernando Alonso 12
5 Valtteri Bottas 10
6 Nico Hülkenberg 8
1 McLaren 33
2 Mercedes 25
3 Ferrari 18
4 Williams F1 10
5 Sahara Force India 9
6 Scuderia Toro Rosso 6

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