Formula 1: Hamilton poised for title push
The British rookie admits that he is ready for a ferocious fight in the run-in for this year's drivers' world championship as he gears up for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.Updated: Sep 06, 2007, 22:25 IST
A relaxed Lewis Hamilton made clear in Monza on Thursday that he was ready for a ferocious fight in the run-in for this year's drivers' world championship - and quietly confident about winning Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old British rookie, who has set the Formula One world alight with his sensational record-breaking performances, leads his McLaren teammate and defending double champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso by five points with five races remaining.
The first of those is this weekend's classic clash on the famous old circuit in the Monza royal park where Ferrari run on home turf anxious to keep alive their bid for both the drivers' and constructors' titles.
As if that stirring backdrop were not enough, the race is also set to take place amid a swirl of rumour and counter-rumour concerning the spying and espionage allegations that involve Hamilton's McLaren team and Ferrari.
Motor sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA) is due to hold a meeting of its world council next Thursday to investigate new evidence in the case.
An appeal by McLaren in relation to an earlier hearing where they were charged with receiving a Ferrari dossier was called off.
Hamilton, however, said on Thursday that he had not been aware of the new developments in the so-called 'spy case' and intended to take little notice. He said he had been brought up to 'rise above' issues and move on.
"This is all a new experience for me," said the Briton.
"I am generally a relaxed kind of person and I am not usually rattled by anything or anyone. It is the way I have been brought up."
He said the same feelings applied to his close rivalry with Alonso who, some said, was showing more ragged signs of stress than his young teammate.
"I have never been rattled in my whole career," explained Hamilton. "So I don't want to start that now."
He said it was to his advantage that he had raced at Monza before in last year's GP2 series and had the greatest of happy memories because it was here that he won that championship.
"Yes, I can definitely draw from last year because that was one of the toughest situations that I had been in," he said.
"I had Nelson Piqeut (junior) breathing down my neck and I had to be in the points to beat him in for the title."
" I did that and now, I know what it takes to succeed like that. It gets tougher and tougher, but I know that you have just got to go out and do it. You just have to do the best job you can."
Hamilton said he believed that even on Italian soil against Ferrari he was racing for the stronger of the two teams.
"If you look at all the stuff through the whole year -- we are still winning and we are the strongest team altogether both here at the track and back at the factory," he said.
Hamilton insisted there was no way in which the off-track distractions of the upcoming 'spy case' hearing and controversy would affect him.
"I have kept away from it and kept myself oblivious to it," he said.
"I have not been on line to check on it. I am just here to get on with my job - and not be affected by it at all. It's a normal working weekend for me."
Hamilton said it would be a close fight with Ferrari in historic surroundings where the Italian team is traditionally strong, but added that qualifying would be the key.
"Qualifying is the key and the way I approach it is the same as always -- but I have yet to discuss that with the engineers. I don't know if they want us to be more aggressive or not, I feel we don't need to be. We have a good enough car already."
The Ferrari drivers Brazilian Felipe Massa and Finn Kimi Raikkonen are third and fourth 15 and 16 points behind him respectively.