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Hamilton driving for points in Japan

Lewis Hamilton goes into the Japan GP with a seven-point lead over championship rival Felipe Massa having learned a valuable lesson at the last race in Singapore.

india Updated: Oct 06, 2008 13:23 IST

Lewis Hamilton goes into the Japan Grand Prix on Sunday with a seven-point lead over championship rival Felipe Massa having learned a valuable lesson at the last race in Singapore.

The McLaren ace was stuck behind David Coulthard on the tricky street circuit but curbed his natural instinct to overtake the Scotsman knowing that Massa was
outside the points and the risk wasn't worth taking.

It proved to be a good decision, with Coulthard pitting and Hamilton eventually finishing third while Massa laboured home in 13th.

"I actually think Singapore was a good learning experience: there was less pressure to achieve a victory because of the unusual circumstances, which meant I was actually able to start thinking of the world championship," he said.

"I hate driving for points, but I think we can all see the benefit of that approach at the moment."

With just three races left this season, Hamilton is well-placed to claim the world title that eluded him in 2007.

He won at the Fuji Speedway last year to have a 12-point lead with two Grand Prix left, but it went pear-shaped in China and Brazil as Kimi Raikkonen cashed in on Hamilton's mistakes to win the title.

The Briton vividly remembers the victory here last year in torrential rain, and is ready for whatever the elements throw at him again this weekend.

"Last year might have been difficult because of the wet weather and the poor visibility, but I actually really enjoyed that weekend," he said.

"The Japanese fans are some of my favourite in the world: so passionate, but really polite, charming and respectful.

"As for the race, one of the questions I get asked most is whether I prefer to drive in the rain: my answer is always the same, I'll race in the wet or dry, I don't mind.

"But it's always easier for us drivers to race in the dry; I'd always prefer a dry race."

"This weekend, I'll be hoping for dry weather for another reason -- I want the fans at the track to have the best weekend possible and to enjoy the atmosphere of one of the season's best races."