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Hamilton eyes McLaren top spot

india Updated: Jan 06, 2008 10:43 IST

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Lewis Hamilton insists last year's spying scandal and the heavy hand of McLaren team politics have been consigned to history as he takes aim at the 2008 Formula One world title.

The British driver enjoyed a storming start to his career in 2007 and was on course to clinch the title before he was pipped to the crown by just one point by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the last race in Brazil.

But Hamilton, who turns 23 on Tuesday, goes into the new season with a new teammate in the shape of Heikki Kovalainen who has replaced double world champion Fernando Alonso with whom the British driver endured a fractious relationship.

"Politics-wise it (2007) was a disaster but that is the business, there is nothing you can do about it," said Hamilton who will join Kovalainen at the launch of the McLaren MP4-23, the team's 2008 car, at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart on Monday.

"You won't see a season quite like it again but I hope next season is just as exciting without the politics. For me it's great, I'm almost seen as the leader of the team and hopefully I can do the job."

Kovalainen, who moved from Renault while Alonso headed in the opposite direction to the team where he won both his titles, will make his McLaren test debut on Tuesday in Jerez.

"I will fly from Stuttgart on Monday straight to Jerez, where the next day I will test the new car for the first time," Kovalainen said.

"I am certainly quite excited about it."

McLaren will be glad to get the new season underway.

In 2007, they were fined 100 million dollars and thrown out of the constructors championship after they were found to be in possession of technical data belonging to Ferrari.

They were then warned that another investigation would be conducted into their 2008 car to ensure it was free of Ferrari information.

But that investigation was called off when McLaren issued a public apology for their role in the saga and offered to put a freeze on developments that could be determined as deriving from the Ferrari information.