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Pre-Monza analysis - Hamilton deflects Mercedes talk 07 Sep 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday, 7 September 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2012

As the rumours about a possible departure from McLaren to Mercedes continue tom fly around the paddock, Lewis Hamilton remained stoic yesterday.

Though Bernie Ecclestone recently hinted that Michael Schumacher might not be continuing in 2013, and Eddie Jordan said on Wednesday that he believes a deal for Hamilton to replace him at Mercedes has been done, Hamilton was adamant that no such thing has been agreed. His management, XIX Entertainment, likewise said that Jordan’s assertion was untrue.

“It’s not great for the team,” Hamilton admitted. “We need to keep our guys motivated because they are working non-stop back at the factory to provide me with a car with which to win the world championship. So all this is not necessary. But what will be, will be. It will all come out when it’s done. But at the end of the day, nothing has changed since the last race.”

He also denied that he is unsettled at McLaren, for whom he has won the Canadian and Hungarian races this season.

“I’m not. We have got some great people in this team. Great people. I have been with them since I was 13, which is a longer relationship than most people here. I do appreciate the special people here, they are incredible. When I go back to the factory I have great relationships with people I have grown up with, from when I did my work experience.”

It’s been an uncomfortable week for McLaren’s 2008 world champion, after the furore over the Tweet he posted of some team telemetry in Belgium, the shunt he suffered in the first corner, and then the Mercedes rumours. He deflected further questions about the potential attraction of Mercedes and countered: “I don’t want to talk about it. I want to stay concentrated on this race. I don’t have a deadline for sorting out next year, though obviously before next season would be useful. I’m in a great position right now and I need to focus on preparing for these upcoming races. There’s a long way to go to the end of the season, and last weekend Jenson showed the great potential in our car and I just want to focus on that.”

A win here is crucial to Hamilton’s title campaign, and McLaren’s form in Belgium suggests that they can be very competitive in low-downforce trim on this very quick track.

“I want to win,” he said. “You always want to win, every year that you compete. That’s why I exist, that’s why the team exists. You just need to ensure you are in a place where you can do that. I think we can be very quick here.”

Local favourite Ferrari Alonso, meanwhile, believes he can do enough to keep in the title hunt, even if a win might be beyond Ferrari’s reach on their home soil.

“For sure it’s not going to easy,” he said. “In terms of performance we’ve been not so quick in the last two or three Grands Prix. It was eight tenths from pole position in Hungary and eight tenths also in Spa. It’s five days from that qualifying so I don’t think we will recover eight tenths by magic button. But I think what we need to do is to maximise our performance, to extract from the car the maximum and hopefully that will give us some chance to be on the podium or if everything goes well, for sure a victory here is very special for all the Ferrari tifosi that will support us here. So we will try to do our best.”

The Spaniard confirmed that he has no lasting effects from the tangle in the first corner at Spa, after complaining initially of some back pain.

“Two hours after the Spa race there was still some pain in the back, but then on Monday morning I woke up absolutely fine, feeling 100 percent, so it was good news, because you never know. The day after the crash anything can happen. So it was good news on Monday morning to do a completely normal day.

“I think Monza is a special win, because for any Ferrari driver it’s a lot of support that you feel from the tifosi from today until Sunday and you want to give something back to them and the best thing is obviously a race win. But from a championship point of view it doesn’t change too much. Even if you’re not fighting for the championship, winning in Monza will be special anyway, because the podium celebration with all the people on the main straight etc., is nice for anyone, not only fighting for the championship. So we will try to do a good race and see how many points we can make and have clear in our minds what is the priority this weekend.”

David Tremayne

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