Hamil­ton hop­ing he’s headed for a hat-trick

Weekend Witness - - Weekend Motoring -

DRIV­ERS’ cham­pi­onship leader Lewis Hamil­ton ex­pects some tough com­pe­ti­tion at this week­end’s Euro­pean Grand Prix, but claimed he has some “un­fin­ished busi­ness” at the Va­len­cia street cir­cuit.

The 2008 cham­pion has led team-mate and fel­low Briton Jen­son But­ton in two con­sec­u­tive one-two vic­to­ries for McLaren and be­lieves that his team are in great shape to ex­tend their lead at the top.

Hamil­ton has set his sights on a third con­sec­u­tive win, but warned that it won’t be easy and ex­pects an­other ex­cit­ing race.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to rac­ing in Va­len­cia.” said Hamil­ton, “I had a great, at­tack­ing race there last year, but I’ve fin­ished sec­ond for the past two sea­sons, so I feel like I have some un­fin­ished busi­ness.

“It’s not a cir­cuit where we’ve seen too much pass­ing in the past, but I think this year could be dif­fer­ent — the grid is so tight, there were bat­tles all through the field in Mon­treal last week.”

De­fend­ing driv­ers’ cham­pion But­ton be­lieves the McLaren team have built a strong mo­men­tum af­ter their re­cent re­sults and ex­pects the na­ture of the Va­len­cia cir­cuit to suit his McLaren car.

“As a team, we’ve taken max­i­mum points in the last two races and it feels like we’ve re­ally gath­ered con­sid­er­able mo­men­tum,” he said.

But­ton added that he was sur­prised that Red Bull are not in a bet­ter po­si­tion in the stand­ings af­ter dom­i­nat­ing the early part of the sea­son.

Brazil­ian Felipe Massa is con­vinced he can still win the world cham­pi­onship and that new up­grades to his Fer­rari in Va­len­cia will help kick-start his sea­son.

Massa has not been on the podium since fin­ish­ing sec­ond in Aus­tralia, but the 28-year-old be­lieves that the new­points sys­tem means that a cou­ple of good re­sults could trans­form his sea­son.

“Un­til you see from a math­e­mat­i­cal point of view that you don’t have a chance any­more, the cham­pi­onship is def­i­nitely open,” he said.

Fer­rari team-mate and dou­ble cham­pion Spa­niard Fer­nando Alonso is also look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to his home coun­try and hop­ing to gain some ground on the cham­pi­onship lead­ers.

“I ex­pect a very strong Fer­rari again in Va­len­cia,” said Alonso. “The goal is to be on the podium on Sun­day af­ter­noon.”

Finn Heikki Ko­valainen is also in the mood for a mem­o­rable week­end as Lo­tus cel­e­brate their 500th Grand Prix.

He said: “This is a his­toric week­end for Lo­tus, and for Lo­tus Rac­ing, and I think we’re start­ing to do jus­tice to what’s gone be­fore us — it’s fan­tas­tic that we can cel­e­brate such a great mile­stone in Va­len­cia. Sapa-AFP.

PHOTO: AP

Cham­pi­onship leader Jorge Lorenzo will be look­ing to in­crease his stand­ings even fur­ther this week­end in the Nether­lands. THE bat­tle for the 2010 FIM Mo­toGP World Cham­pi­onship con­tin­ues this week­end as the TIM TT Assen comes just one week af­ter the ex­cite­ment of Sil­ver­stone, where vic­tory for Jorge Lorenzo gave the Mal­lor­can a 37­point ad­van­tage in the cham­pi­onship stand­ings.

Lorenzo will be look­ing to turn the screw on his ri­vals even fur­ther this week­end in the Nether­lands, but the Fiat Yamaha rider is adamant that he will be ap­proach­ing the Dutch TT like any other race.

“I ar­rive here af­ter a great vic­tory, but my ap­proach will not change as a re­sult,” said Lorenzo dur­ing the pre­event press con­fer­ence. “I have had three wins here in the past, one on the 125 and two on the 250, so I can say that this is one of my strong­est tracks.”

Lorenzo took time out ahead of the press con­fer­ence to check the mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the Rusken­hoek corner, the only changes to the track since the cur­rent cham­pi­onship leader fin­ished sec­ond in the Mo­toGP race last year.

“I went out on the scooter to have a look at Rusken­hoek, which is cer­tainly a lot faster than it was be­fore.

“Hav­ing seen the mod­i­fied corner on tele­vi­sion dur­ing the Su­per­bike race here, I had some con­cerns about the changes, but now I’ve seen it up close, the corner looks fine.”

An­drea Dovizioso is on a rich vein of form, hav­ing scored four podium fin­ishes in five races and with his sec­ond place at Sil­ver­stone last time out mov­ing the Ital­ian up to sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship. The Rep­sol Honda rider will be push­ing hard for his first win of the 2010 cam­ paign this week­end, as he looks to close the gap on Lorenzo in the cham­pi­onship.

Ben Spies has been some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion in his de­but Mo­toGP sea­son, with new cir­cuits caus­ing no prob­lems for the Mon­ster Yama­haTech 3 rider. Spies took his first podium fin­ish last time out in Sil­ver­stone, but was quick to play down his chances of a re­peat per­for­mance this week­end at Assen, al­though this is one of the few cir­cuits at which he’s raced pre­vi­ously.

“It’s good to come to a track I’ve been to be­fore, and one that I like,” said Spies. “I think the bike will be good here, but I know it will be tough to fight for a podium again this week­end. Maybe peo­ple will ex­pect meto be on the podium ev­ery week­end now, but I’m more re­al­is­tic be­cause I know just how hard Sil­ver­stone was.”

Du­cati Marl­boro’s Casey Stoner has had some­thing of a dif­fi­cult start to the sea­son, but ad­vanced up the cham­pi­onship stand­ings to eighth po­si­tion, af­ter fight­ing back from a dis­as­trous start even­tu­ally to claim fourth place last time out at Sil­ver­stone.

Al­varo Bautista is an­other rider who’s had to con­tend with a dif­fi­cult start to the sea­son af­ter the Spa­niard sus­tained a shoul­der in­jury in a mo­tocross crash ahead of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. High­sid­ing him­self off the Ri­zla Suzuki GSV­R dur­ing prac­tice in Le Mans didn’t help mat­ters ei­ther, but the for­mer 125 cc World Cham­pion now says he’s fast ap­proach­ing full fit­ness once again and look­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ing his de­but sea­son in Mo­toGP.

— Wit­ness Re­porter.

PHOTO: AP

2008 cham­pion McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamil­ton (right) has led team­mate and fel­low Briton Jen­son But­ton (left) in two con­sec­u­tive one­two vic­to­ries for McLaren and be­lieves his team are in great shape to ex­tend

their lead.

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