Final races hold no fear for Hamilton
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, September 10th 2010, 08:47 GMT|
Lewis Hamilton says the final flyaway races no longer hold any fear for McLaren - even though their high-downforce nature had been expected to favour title rivals Red Bull Racing more.
With the characteristics of this weekend's Monza venue set to play to the strengths of McLaren, the Briton's world title hopes are almost certainly going to hinge on whether his Woking-based team can add enough downforce to its car to make it a match for Red Bull's RB6 for the final events of the campaign.
And although the last high-downforce race in Hungary showed Red Bull Racing to be in a class of its own, Hamilton thinks a combination of the new flexi-wing clampdown plus developments from McLaren can help his outfit maintain a challenge for the remainder of the season.
When asked whether he felt Monza was the last of the season's tracks that would favour McLaren, Hamilton said: "No. I think if you looked a few races ago you may have said that. We are working very hard on improving the car and I hope that in some of the rules changes, hopefully some of the others will come closer to us.
"Maybe we are more evenly matched now and we are trying to improve our high downforce performance, so hopefully in Singapore and Suzuka we will be more competitive than we would have been. And for races like the last one – we learned a lot about the car.
"I am hoping that when we arrive there [Singapore] we will be able to compete with them. We may not be as fast, and we won't know until we get there – but I am hoping that this weekend especially we will be quick."
Hamilton also believes that the experience of the season so far shows that tracks are throwing up surprises too in terms of predicted downforce levels – which could also be a factor in swinging things towards McLaren.
"Without a doubt on extremely high downforce levels – like Monaco – they (Red Bull Racing) are very, very fast. We are trying to catch up and improve. But you never know.
"We've gone to a lot of tracks this year where the data says you should be on this particular downforce level but in actual fact you have to move, at least for us. Sometimes we have had to move from a lower downforce to higher, or from higher to lower – so we might find that the package similar to what we had at Spa might work at those tracks. I hope it does."
Although Hamilton and Mark Webber have broken free from their rivals at the head of the championship table, the 2008 world champion still thinks the title chase is totally open.
"I don't think so," said Hamilton when asked if he felt it was now a two-horse race. "I feel it would be wrong to assume that. That is because there are so many points available.
"It is easy to take that frame of mind and go into a race, and then the next thing you know it is me in that position. I don't alter or feel any different from when I went into the last race. For me the gap is nothing, I feel we are more equal. That is my approach and I need to get as many points as I can."
He added: "After the last race I had a great result and we are working hard on improving the car, but there are still 150 points available.
"It is a bit too early to say - and still wide open pretty much. We have a little bit of a cushion but the championship goes up and down, and I am just trying to remain consistent."