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Hamilton vows to come back stronger after Bahrain errors 25 Apr 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 24 April 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 24 April 2008 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 24 April 2008

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton looked fresh and relaxed here in the Circuit de Catalunya paddock on Thursday, and after his unhappy race in the Bahrain Grand Prix is adamant that he has no intention of changing his style ahead of the weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The 23 year-old’s race at the Sakhir circuit began to go wrong when he crashed in practice, got worse with a terrible start, and then descended into a nightmare in which he failed to score any points after a early brush with former team mate Fernando Alonso. In the process he lost his world championship lead to Kimi Raikkonen, who pipped him to the 2007 title.

"Straight after the race I knew what had gone wrong and I knew how to correct it,” he insisted, “so the next few days were just dealing with the fact I had a poor performance. So I got back to training and making sure I came here fresh. It is always the key, turning it around and coming back stronger.

"I approach this race in exactly the same way but obviously I won't be making the same mistake again. This weekend being here, feeling fresh after a good break from racing, and making sure we come here fresh, has been important. I feel good."

McLaren, and Hamilton in particular, are feeling the pressure not only from Ferrari but also from BMW Sauber, the latter leading the world championship for constructors and challenging the two established top teams very strongly. Both of them expect the white and blue cars to be very strong here again this weekend.

"For sure going into the season we thought it was going to be a Ferrari versus McLaren fight, similar to last year,” Hamilton conceded, “but BMW have made a good step forward. But then the whole paddock have made a good step forwards.

"We see in qualifying we are closer than last year in terms of the gap between all the cars, so it must be more spectacular to watch. For us as well, having another challenger and trying to beat another team is good fun."

Interestingly, Hamilton does not share Ron Dennis’s view that this race will necessarily reveal the true pecking order for the rest of the season, and says that he expects things to fluctuate from circuit to circuit just as they did last year.

"People say that, but I don't particularly agree," he said. “Last year Ferrari were very, very fast here and so were we, but it is different at every track. Obviously we do a lot of testing here and it is a great circuit to do that, the weather is always good and wind quite low, so good for testing and finding pace of the car but all the tracks are different.”

Meanwhile, points leader Kimi Raikkonen acknowledges that he should be happy. “Of course it's nice but the season is only a few races old. It is a long way to go and it doesn't help if you are leading now and you can't keep it up and lead when it really matters. But so far it has been pretty okay. It could have been better at the start of the season but we are leading in the points, so I need to be happy.”

Speaking of the revisions to his Ferrari, he added: “I don't really have a clear picture about it. I did four or five laps in the dry and it was a bit damp. The team is happy how we improved the car and we brought some new parts and they seem to work. It should be better. I tried the new front on a few laps on intermediates, so we will see how it goes over the weekend, how the car goes. It should be better than it was in previous races.

“I have been here before in dry conditions and every time you improve the car it should make it better. We have some work to do but I think for sure we can be fast here.”

The FIA’s EveryRace anti-racism campaign was launched on Thursday, having been initiated after isolated racist abuse that Hamilton suffered here in a test early in February. “I believe that motor sport, like all other sports, is about freedom of expression in the pursuit of competition and excellence. Nothing more, nothing less,” Hamilton said.

David Tremayne