Thursday, July 5, 2007

The British GP Preview

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton firmly believes that he can win this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone - the first time he will ever race a Formula One car in front of his fellow countrymen.That is despite Ferrari’s speed here in recent testing and sudden return to form in Magny-Cours - and in spite of all the scandal that has blown up following allegations that a senior McLaren engineer received stolen intellectual property from Ferrari and the ensuing suspension of that engineer.
Both of these factors will add to any pressure Hamilton feels racing at home, but he is convinced that he can join a long list of Britons who have won the British Grand Prix: Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks, Peter Collins, Jim Clark, David Coulthard, Sir Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert.“You can’t win every race, and the most important thing is to be consistent, which I think we are,” he said after finishing third at Magny-Cours. “Both the Ferrari drivers said they made a good step forward, but when you are behind people, as we were in Magny-Cours, it’s a lot harder to show your true pace. I don’t think they were as quick, as much faster than us, as it looked today. Traffic and strategy had a lot to do with that, so I still think we can bounce back at Silverstone, without a doubt.“I don’t think Ferrari’s sudden speed is worrying. It just shows they’ve made a great step forward and had a slightly better strategy than us. We were always on a three-stop strategy but what happened at the start affected that. After I had made my third pit stop I was a long way behind Felipe so there was no point in me wrenching the neck out of the engine trying to catch him. Throughout the race we were quite consistent on speed, but we need a little more. I am sure that we will make another improvement before Silverstone.“To be honest, in France I was not disappointed. I don’t like to be overtaken, but that’s the same for everyone. But I was on the podium again and we are the most consistent team and I think we are doing a better job. I have extended my lead in the World Championship, so I couldn’t be happier.“It is a great feeling to go to Silverstone as the World Championship leader. To do so certainly seemed unimaginable at the start of the season. I’m very, very happy with the job I’ve done and the team have done and I go into my first British GP with the team I always wanted to drive for, and that’s one of the greatest feelings a driver can have.”After scoring his (and Honda’s) first point of the season, Jenson Button is also feeling a little more upbeat ahead of his home race. “Silverstone will be fun because I have a lot of friends and family coming and the fans treat you the same way even when things are tough. The fans at Silverstone have always been fantastic and there are four Brits to cheer on, so the lead-up will be hectic.”David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson (in his first British Grand Prix) are both seeking points finishes for Red Bull and Super Aguri respectively, while BMW Sauber and Renault will re-engage their battle for third place overall as Williams look to do well on home ground, Toyota hope to reproduce the speed Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher displaced in the test here in June, and Toro Rosso hope their seamless shift gearbox will translate into Red Bull-matching lap times. With their factory just over the road from the circuit, Spyker would also like to take something good home from this one.On paper, however, Ferrari are looking very strong. “We are back where we expect to be. You could feel the improvement in the car everywhere, really. In every corner,” Raikkonen said after his second win of the season, which brought the score to two apiece for the four leading contenders.One thing that may well bring in a degree of uncertainty to the overall equation is the weather, with rain forecast for each day.

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