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Lewis Hamilton focused on finishing second in Valencia

Lewis Hamilton, Valencia, 2012Lewis Hamilton says his focus will be on trying to finish second in the European Grand Prix - after admitting he is doubtful about being able to fight for victory.

Although the world championship leader is starting from the front row, he thinks the balance issues that have dogged his weekend make it unlikely he has what it takes to move himself to the front of the field.

When asked, in light of the tight title battle, if he would be happy to finish second, he said: "No, but that would be a big plus for me.

"Coming in to this weekend, and definitely as it started, I didn't expect to be as high up as I am now. That is through struggling with the set-up of the car, and knowing that it is a tough circuit for the tyres - and it will be in the race.

"The target is to finish where I am starting, and after that anything above that is a positive."

Team-mate Jenson Button, who starts ninth, thinks that the long run pace of the McLaren is not too bad though although expects a tough time in the hot conditions when it comes to looking after the tyres.

"I have to be positive about the race," he said. "I think the pace of the car here has been very good and hopefully on the long runs it is also.

"The consistency of the run on Friday was not too bad. The offset in pace was quite big, but some of the teams run a lot less fuel when they do a long run, and hopefully the race will be a good day in terms of consistency and tyre degradation.

"It is very tough around here because there is a lot of traction in first and second gear, which puts a lot of temperature in the tyre and it is tough around here.

"It is the same for everyone; so it will be about who copes best. I think most of the strategy will be quite similar, with one or two stops, and most people will go for a two stop. It will not be about running a different strategy to get a good result; it will be about looking after your tyres and stopping at the right moment."

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