Haug: Hamilton not Monaco favourite

Lewis Hamilton should not be installed as the favourite for victory at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, despite mounting expectation that the rookie can score a maiden win on the streets of Monte Carlo

Haug: Hamilton not Monaco favourite

That is the view of Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug, who believes that the hype surrounding Hamilton's debut performances in F1 is getting out of control and that it is unrealistic to start expecting too much of the McLaren driver too soon.

"I hope before not too long he wins a race, but I think it is not right to really describe him as the big favourite for Monaco," Haug told autosport.com. "That is not correct for me. He has been exceptional already to be second three times in a row.

"Whatever the outcome is at Monaco we will support him. He has had fantastic races there in the past. He is a street racer. He likes those types of tracks. But now the focus is maybe on him too much."

Hamilton himself has made no secret of the fact that he is heading to Monaco to try and win, but Haug is adamant that the team are keeping their ambitions in check - especially as he expects the competition to extend beyond just Ferrari.

"There are lots of very good cars around and we should be in good shape. But having said that, Ferrari are faster slightly and hopefully we can apply pressure.

"In the last few years we have won more races than anyone else at Monaco, and Ferrari haven't been too happy there and were not too successful. But I can see at least eight to ten cars that can be surprisingly quick there.

"Some of them will not be so much of a surprise because we expect them to be quick. Guys like David Coulthard and Mark Webber in the Red Bulls can be strong there. Williams are traditionally good there. Alex Wurz, when he was testing for us there, he put in a really good performance. BMW will be very quick. So there are a lot of cars that can be very competitive in Monaco. It's completely open."

Haug has admitted some surprise about the level of interest surrounding Hamilton's performances this year. But he believes that much of the credit for what has happened should be taken by team boss Ron Dennis - who had the conviction to support Hamilton when he was still in karting.

"I can understand the enthusiasm in England, but now everybody only speaks about Lewis. Former race drivers, whoever, all saying 'I knew he was a star', but the reality is without Ron, and the system, he would be in a different place.

"He probably would have made it, but maybe he would not. The reality is that the guys who really are close to him speak the least, and that is correct."

Haug has also played down suggestions that world champion Fernando Alonso is getting frustrated at the attention being focused on his teammate, and by the strong challenge he is facing from him.

"Fernando is not disappointed. If he would have known when he came to us that after four races he would be two points behind the leader, and we are leading the constructors' championship, he would be happy.

"Maybe in Bahrain a podium was possible with a different strategy or whatever, but we don't know. Everything is fine."

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