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An air of calm - and confidence - at McLaren 29 Jun 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 28 June 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 28 June 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 28 June 2007 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 28 June 2007

Plus Raikkonen buoyant and Button upbeat on Honda improvements

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso say they have sat down after Indianapolis and decided that they will not believe anything attributed to the other in their respective country's media, and not to talk about one another unless both are present.

It’s an interesting insight into the manner in which they are handling the pressure of being duelling team mates who nonetheless respect each other.

“I sat down with Fernando in Indy and said I don't really read many newspapers or magazines and I won't take anything that's said and put it against him,” Hamilton explained. “I said if I have any questions I'll approach him and sit down and ask him face to face. He said the same thing to me. He doesn't read too much into it. That's good because you can then trust each other and rely on that respect and the relationship we have.”

The pair expect to be quick again here, on a track that should again suit their McLaren MP4-22. The Spaniard believes the car was improved again after the recent Silverstone test.

“It was a good week for us,” he said. “I think as a team we improved our car and our performance. We had some new bits on the car improving the aerodynamics, the suspension as well, brakes, so many new things on the car. You choose the good ones for here, for racing, and take the bad ones back to the factory and to try and find the problem. We developed the car, we improved it and it should again be competitive here.”

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, was also cautiously optimistic for improvement at Ferrari, where a recent failure of their wind tunnel’s moving ground plane interrupted aero research. Following his speed at Silverstone, the Finn said: “Testing is always one thing but the racing is completely different. We will see tomorrow how the car is, to know whether we can, nut hopefully we will challenge the McLarens here.”

He also responded to Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo’s recent plea to see the Raikkonen that others fear.

“I think I expect better results but there are certain things that haven’t been right and we try to improve those and then hopefully at some point we will get it right and we can get the results that we want,” he said, “and I can drive how I want. This seems to take a bit of a longer time.”

Hamilton conceded that it is inevitable his perfect run will come to an end. “I feel quite confident I can continue but it is inevitable that something is going to happen sometime, that's just racing,” he said. “You can try to be perfect every race but it is very, very difficult. No-one has done it in the past.

“There are bound to be races where we're not as fast or where we have problems. We have to make sure we work as hard as possible to eliminate all those possible chances for something to go wrong. For me it is just a case of making sure I'm well prepared, full of energy and just to focus and approach each race as I have all the other races. As for the team, they just need to push harder.”

Jenson Button has expressed similar sentiments about Honda, in terms of the need to push harder, but said yesterday: “I was cautiously optimistic when we tested in Jerez recently. The car felt better, but it was hard to quantify the precise change because only Super Aguri were there and they never ran at the same time as us. But I hope we can show some improvement here and fight for points in our own right. P8 because others retired doesn’t interest me; that’s not what I go racing for. But P8 on our own merit would be satisfying. It would be nice to have some points ahead of Silverstone.”

Button also said how much he had enjoyed his fight in the US Grand Prix, even though he only finished 12th, and that a back ache after his first-corner bounce there had receded after Jerez. Meanwhile, at BMW Sauber, Robert Kubica is raring to go again after being cleared by FIA medic Dr Gary Hartstein to race.

David Tremayne