Hamilton and Button
BARCELONA, Spain, May 23, 2011 (AFP) - Britain's Lewis Hamilton believes his driving skills can lead him to victory in next week's Monaco Grand Prix and help him revive his bid for a second world Formula One title.
The 26-year-old Englishman finished a close second to defending champion and series leader Sebastian Vettel in the Spanish Grand Prix Sunday where the high-speed cornering performance of the Red Bull cars gave them an edge on McLaren.
"You have amazing down-force in the high speed corners," said Hamiton to Vettel after the race. "Just amazing!"
Looking ahead to this Sunday's classic on the twisting street circuit in the Mediterranean principality, Hamilton smiled with optimism. "We have something good coming for Monaco. So I feel pretty positive. It's a very positive feeling now," he said. "I didn't expect to be as quick as I was in that race -- we were quicker than the Red Bulls except in the high-speed corners. So that's good. And for me it is positive going into Monaco where the driver can really make a difference."
He added that he felt he might even have passed Vettel if the race had been a little longer. "A few more laps and you might have seen a different result," added Hamilton.
"It was very difficult to balance how many laps were left and how much life was left in the tyres - and, of course, I was pushing behind him. He was in clean air and I was in dirty air and the car was sliding so much. Nonetheless, we did a great job and I am very happy and proud for the team."
Hamilton's optimism ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix was echoed by his team with team-mate and fellow Briton Jenson Button saying "it will be fun, for sure" and team Chief Martin Whitmarsh adding his own sense of confidence.
"We've seen both Lewis and Jenson do great jobs there," he said. "They love Monaco. We've won it 14 times and we'd like to do it again."
Button warned that this season's fast-wearing Pirelli tyres would help turn the race into more of a lottery than usual.
Button said: "There is a going to be a lot of tyre degradation as we have got the super soft and the soft tyres there -- so it is going to be very tricky for all of us."
Whitmarsh, however, warned that McLaren and Red Bull may not be the only contenders in Monte Carlo. "Don't underestimate the others, Fernando (Alonso, of Ferrari) did a fantastic qualifying lap in Spain and he can pull those sorts of things out. At the moment, I think we've got some pace on Ferrari, but they can improve very quickly and so can Mercedes."
Last year's Monaco Grand Prix was won from pole position by Australian Mark Webber if Red Bull, but both Button and Hamilton have won in the past and so, too, has Alonso, twice. All this leaves Vettel, in form and on top of the championship, looking to join the exclusive club and extend his lead - he currently has 118 points to Hamilton's 77.
"It would be very nice," said German Vettel. "But we have to keep working hard and be ready. I am telling the boys that is all we have to do."