Hamilton: China error has made me stronger 19 Oct 2007
All three of the contenders for the world championship met up at Interlagos yesterday, and all three gave their version of their feelings calmly and with varying degrees of confidence.
Each knows that certain sets of circumstances must come about for them to achieve their dreams - Lewis Hamilton (107 points) and Kimi Raikkonen (100) for the first time, Fernando Alonso (103) for the third in a row - and that only Hamilton is in a position to grasp the nettle and make it happen for himself.
If he wins, he is champion, simple as that. For Alonso and Raikkonen to do likewise, things must happen to the others, as specified here earlier in the week.
Hamilton is adamant that his error in China has made him stronger and more confident, rather than less, about winning the championship here, and he sounded entirely convincing.
It definitely didnt make me more nervous, he said. If anything it took the pressure off my shoulders and I think I came out of it even stronger. I thought it would knock my confidence and put me on my back foot, but I went away and I thought about the weekend and I feel Im even stronger than I was, for whatever reason. It was a good learning experience. Coming here, I feel a lot different compared to the last race. The last race was always all the pressure was building up and everything was going on, on the Thursday and Friday, and it wasnt a great weekend. But I feel totally relaxed now and fully confident in the team and our ability to challenge for the title.
But is he already seeing himself standing on the podium, crowned as champion?
No! I think if you do that you get too ahead of yourself and thats when you can make mistakes.
He also says that his preparation for this crucial race hasnt varied from his norm. Its been pretty much the same as always: my family had planned a little trip so they went away so I didnt really have much time with them but I had time to just relax at my real home, my parents house, did some good training, made sure I was physically fit for this weekend as this is an anti-clockwise circuit so its a little bit harder on the other side of your neck, and just made sure I was feeling fresh.
Alonso has to take a slightly different view, as the hunter rather than the hunted. For sure, five or six races ago, you just concentrated on doing your job, take the weekend like the final race of the championship, the Spaniard said. Now its more a championship thought so when you are in the car you dont care too much about the race result, you just concentrate on how many points you will get. I think especially in this last race its about all the combinations we know that we need to be champion. You try to do your maximum, you try to do your best. Sure its not only up to you.
Raikkonen celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday, and had yet another view of things as the man with the biggest mountain to climb.
I think you are always a little bit nervous every race, but I try to do the same as in any other race, I try to do the best I can. I try to win the race, for us to be one and two and then its not really up to us any more, so thats really all we can do and hopefully we can achieve that.
So now the waiting is over, and things finally kick off today with the first practice sessions. For Alonso and Raikkonen they provide the chance to fettle their cars ready for all-important qualifying; for Hamilton, the vital opportunity to learn another track that he has only experienced on a computer game.