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Hamilton on France penalty: I’ll just have to pass some cars! 16 Jun 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 6 June 2008 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren The McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 of race retiree Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton insists his ten-place grid penalty at this weekend’s French Grand Prix will not affect his preparations for the Magny-Cours race. Hamilton, who takes the drop as punishment for his pit-lane crash in Canada, says he will be relying on a mix of strategy and aggression to get him back into contention.

"Mentally, it’s just something that you learn to overcome quickly,” said the Englishman of the penalty. “We’ve already looked at the best ways of optimising the strategy to help us move up the field and I guess I’ll just have to pass some cars if I want to get into the points!"

The French circuit is not the easiest of tracks on which to pass. Indeed, in the words of Mercedes’ Norbert Haug, “according to our experience of Magny-Cours there is some kind of ban of overtaking.” Nevertheless, Hamilton believes it is possible.

"You can dive down the inside into the Adelaide Hairpin and also have a look into the penultimate corner,” he said. “But an area we can really focus on is the strategy - Magny-Cours has a relatively short pit lane which does open up the strategic options available to us in the race."

Hamilton’s penalty will inevitably force McLaren to alter their overall approach to the coming Grand Prix weekend, but Martin Whitmarsh, the team’s Formula One CEO, remains hopeful of both cars delivering strong results.

"Obviously, we go to France knowing we only have the capability to field one car on the optimum strategy, so our job will be a little different from normal,” he said. “But we still expect to extract the very maximum performance levels from both cars. Both Lewis and Heikki (Kovalainen) are very confident about their chances and we will be working hard with the strategists and engineers in order to provide them both with the optimum strategy for the race."

Historically, Magny-Cours has not been the most successful of circuits for McLaren. Last year Hamilton came home third after starting second on the grid, while then team mate Fernando Alonso finished seventh.