Hamilton ready for more wins - could it tip the title? 21 Aug 2009
Lewis Hamilton comes to Valencia in the same frame of mind he approached every Grand Prix in 2007 and 08: expecting to fight for victory.
Since his surprise success in Hungary, which yielded his first victory since China last year, the reigning world champion believes that McLaren can now fight for wins for the rest of the season. Part of that is because his cars KERS energy storage system will come into its own on the remaining tracks, and part is because of further revisions to its aerodynamic configuration.
Fresh from a break on the beaches of Los Angeles with his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, of the Pussycat Dolls, he is raring to go racing again.
"We know we are on track to compete for more wins and definitely to compete at the front of the grid a lot more often," he said. "Our aim now is to win as many races as we can."
He is no longer a contender for the 2009 title, but there is a strong likelihood that his performances will influence the outcome of that battle.
On the one hand he could spell bad news for championship leader Jenson Button, whose lead has steadily been whittled down by Red Bull rivals Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. If he gets the MP4-24 between the Red Bulls and Brawns, Button's lead could be decimated in next to no time. On the other, if McLaren beat Red Bull, it could help Buttons prospects.
"Valencia went very well for me last year," Hamilton added. "I was second there last year and we were very competitive with Ferrari and Felipe (Massa).
"It definitely suited my driving style and hopefully now with the car being a bit better we should be able to compete again for at least a podium. I think this weekend should be good for us.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has described McLaren and Ferraris KERS systems as a major headache for his team and Hamilton said: "As our car gets better KERS is going to become more and more valuable. I think if we were to take our KERS off then currently we are not as fast as, say, the Red Bulls. But with our KERS on I think we are now just as fast as them. Hopefully once we get our car to match theirs we will have a clear advantage.
"I think that in Valencia - and in fact quite a lot of the races coming up - KERS is going to be quite an advantage to have, especially off the start."
Hamilton said his one regret here is that he wont now get the chance to race Michael Schumacher, whose F1 career ended the race before his own began.
"As I said at the time, it would have been a real privilege just to be on the same grid as him, but I've just got to wish him well and hope he has a quick recovery. If he decides to come back at some other point in the future then I will welcome him with open arms.
"I was just so psyched to have the opportunity to race against him."