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F1 NEWS 

McLaren buoyed by practice pace

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Abu Dhabi 2010McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says he is confident that Lewis Hamilton can fight for the race win that could give him a title shot in the Abu Dhabi finale, with the Briton having started the weekend with the fastest time in Friday practice.

Hamilton is 24 points behind leader Fernando Alonso in the standings, so needs to win and rely on misfortune for his rivals to have any chance of winning the championship.

Whitmarsh admitted that Hamilton's time-topping performance in this evening's practice session was no guarantee of good form, but said the team is very optimistic.

"I think we are not too bad," said Whitmarsh. "We should not read too much into [practice], we don't underestimate our friends at Red Bull and Ferrari, but there's no reason we cannot be competitive in qualifying and let's see how we race."

Whitmarsh added that the fact that anything less than a race victory was of no use to Hamilton's title hopes made life easier in some ways for the 2008 champion.

"We'll focus on winning the race and see what happens thereafter," said Whitmarsh.

"We will be fighting until the last lap, we have won championships at last few corners over the years so we have to keep pushing. It will be tremendously exciting.

"Lewis has to just focus on winning the race and after that the championship is in hands of others."

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