Alonso revved up to end Hamilton's run
Fernando Alonso has the French GP on his mind ever since he failed to find a way past McLaren teammate Hamilton at Indianapolis.india Updated: Jun 27, 2007 18:51 IST
Fernando Alonso has had the French Grand Prix on his mind ever since he tried and failed to find a way past McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton at Indianapolis.
While 22-year-old rookie Hamilton arrives at Magny-Cours chasing a hat-trick of wins and with a 10-point lead over Alonso after seven podium finishes in seven races, Formula One's double world champion is itching to turn the tables on Sunday.
The duel between the two, friends off the track but fierce rivals on it, has given the season a compelling psychological twist as they battle each other in identical cars with Ferrari falling back.
In the US Grand Prix, the two McLarens went wheel-to-wheel down the main straight with Hamilton fending off the champion to the Spaniard's obvious annoyance.
"It was very difficult to overtake, very difficult to follow anyone so I just started thinking of the French Grand Prix," Alonso told reporters afterwards.
France, with Magny-Cours possibly hosting a grand prix for the last time due to a losing battle against economic forces, is where Alonso sees his season really starting.
Like Ferrari's now retired seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, he believes that when the going gets tough the tough get going. He won at Magny-Cours with Renault in 2005 and was runner-up last year and in 2004.
"I think I am going to benefit from coming back to Europe," he told Spain's Cadena Ser radio. "I think the championship starts now."
"We have done just seven races, not even half the championship. And now I'm more comfortable than before and full of confidence that everything will go well from now on."
Hamilton, the first black driver to win a race and also the youngest Briton, was taking a pragmatic approach.
"Going to Magny-Cours, I have to approach it the same way as I always do," he told British reporters in London last week. "It's going to be extremely tough."
"But it is all about consistency, so I don't have to win. A second or a third would be great. As long as I get points, that is the key."
Hamilton is 19 points clear of Ferrari's third-placed Brazilian Felipe Massa and 26 ahead of Schumacher's replacement Kimi Raikkonen.
"The fight will go on," the Finn said on his website after Indianapolis. "Sooner or later also the pressure will hit Hamilton and we will see how he is able to deal with it."
Raikkonen has also been buoyed up by recent testing at Silverstone.
"The car was much better than at the races in North America. So I'm really very confident of the race in Magny-Cours," he told the Ferrari website.
Champions Renault say they have turned the tide and expect to be more competitive in front of their home fans while third-placed BMW Sauber should welcome back Poland's Robert Kubica after his big crash in Montreal forced him to miss Indianapolis.
First Published: Jun 27, 2007 18:33 IST