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Hamilton determined to beat Ferrari on their home turf 07 Sep 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2007 The rear of the McLaren Mercedes MP4/22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2007 Ferrari F2007 front nosecone.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 6 September 2007

As the storm clouds gathered over McLaren in the paddock yesterday, Lewis Hamilton insisted that he would like nothing better than to win the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, not just to increase his lead in the world championship but also to stymie Ferrari on their home ground ahead of the reconvened World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing into the long-running espionage case next Thursday.

Besides being recalled to answer fresh evidence, presented to the FIA earlier this week, the Anglo-German team also found itself in trouble with the stewards yesterday afternoon. The team used a new lightweight gearbox on both cars in Hungary, where Hamilton won and Fernando Alonso placed fourth. McLaren took the view that, while important, the changes to the gearbox and rear-end structure of the MP4-22 were not “significant”, and thus did not require to be crash tested (as stated in the FIA regulations).

Yesterday the stewards considered evidence from the FIA that the changes were significant, and agreed with the governing body. Retrospective crash testing carried out after the Hungarian race proved that the structure passed the test, but the stewards censured McLaren for delaying providing the necessary information to the FIA until after that race, therefore making it more difficult to make a ruling on whether a crash test was necessary, and fined them US$50,000. No further action was deemed necessary.

Hamilton admitted that he had “kept away from the distractions,” last week, meaning that he had not been aware of the WMSC situation, and said: “I have been completely oblivious to them this past week. It hit me when I got here and found out, and I am just going to try to get on with my job. That means beating Ferrari on their home ground. That is the target of the whole team this weekend, because that would be a huge blow to Ferrari.

“I don’t like what they are putting our team through. Ferrari are portrayed as the most innocent team and I don’t think that is the case. I think our team have been unfairly treated. And I think we are stronger.”

He added: “I felt that our test here last week was very good, although it’s always exaggerated when you take downforce off the car because it feels quicker. I really felt that we had taken a big step forward, as big as the one we took prior to Monaco. Though to be fair, Fernando disagreed and felt it was smaller. But I feel really confident about our prospects for the race this weekend.”

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen admitted that it is difficult to get the set-up right to deal with the low downforce requirements and the need to ride the kerbs in the chicanes, and said: “It is difficult to say where we are going to be, but hopefully we are going to be in a grid position to fight for the win.”

Commenting on team mate Felipe Massa’s assertion that Ferrari are in better shape than they appeared to be in the recent test here, he added: “I don’t know, really, because from testing it is always difficult to say - you can only guess what fuel the other teams have, but you only really know yourselves what you are doing. I was not 100 percent happy with the car, but we found some reasons and hopefully we will have a better set up and we’ll see where we are. I think we should be okay - probably not our strongest race, but it should still be pretty good.”

David Tremayne