Lewis Hamilton, the winner of the most recent Grand Prix in Canada believes that the Formula One field is closer in terms of pace and performance now than at any other time during his career in the sport.
Hamilton, who won the 2008 Championship, believes he and his McLaren team can actively compete to win the title, but it will not be easy to win with strong challenges from Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
“Our sport is so incredibly competitive at the moment – and we’re seeing different teams come to the forefront all the time – that this championship is going to be as much about playing the long game – minimising mistakes, scoring points at every race – as it is about success at individual races,” Hamilton wrote on his official website.
“And, actually, I think that’s the first time you can probably say that about a Formula 1 championship. Whether it’s the changes to the points system, or just the fact that there are maybe as many as 10 drivers out there with the machinery capable of winning races, you can’t afford to just take the points. You’ve got to be on the limit all the time – and I love that, because that’s how I love to race.”
“It’s great to be leading the world championship, but, I have to be honest, Formula 1 is so tough and so competitive at the moment that you can’t take anything for granted – and, while I might be on top right now, I know that I’ll need to fight for every lap of the next 11 races to remain up there,” he said.
“And, I think I’m like the fifth leader of the championship so far this year, so it’s pretty clear that it’s not so easy staying on top.”
Lewis Hamilton is hoping that he can repeat his win of 2008 in this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The British driver, who won the title in the same season as he won the Monaco event is looking to strike a victory on a season which has been so far dominated by Red Bull Racing with patchy moments of brilliance from Ferrari and his own McLaren Mercedes team.
Hamilton, who says Monaco is his “favourite race circuit” is hoping that a new helmet design will bring him the luck needed to win. The Briton has in the passed had diamonds encrusted onto his tin, following an agreement between Steinmetz and the McLaren team but this year the former champion says he will be using a whole new design for the first time.
“I’ll be wearing a specially-painted helmet for the occasion,” said Hamilton. “When you see it you’ll know why I’ll be hoping for it to swing the odds in my favour.”
“I love the Monaco circuit,” added Hamilton. “It’s the greatest track in Formula One, and my victory there in 2008 is still probably my best win in Formula One, and one of the greatest moments in my career. It was an incredible day.
“In 2008 it was wet, and looking at the week ahead, the weather also looks extremely unpredictable, with heavy rain forecast for much of the week. Even if it doesn’t rain on the Sunday, the possibility of heavily disrupted practice and qualifying sessions means we’ll probably go into the race with a chance of one of the most exciting and unpredictable Monaco Grands Prix for many years.”
Red Bull Racing’s highly ratie young driver Sebastian Vettel claims that to maintain their dominance, his team need an f-duct as seen on other top cars including the McLaren’s.
The system which affects the air flow across the car on straights activated by the driver placing his hand over a hole in the car is said to give a 5-10mph advantage. Red Bull use Renault engines which suffer with a lower top speed already, so any system to provide more speed would be advantageous.
“If you compare to the other teams and compare the sector times where you lose times and so on, it is clear on the sectors where you have more straights that you tend to lose more to a McLaren than another car,” said the German.
“It (the f-duct) is something you have to have, no matter if you have a midfield car or probably one of the best cars. It is worth quite a bit, and is quite a big advantage in terms of lap time. It probably depends on the circuit, but it is up to five tenths (of a second.)
“I think you would need to find a lot of parts that work well to give you half a second advantage for one lap – no matter in which conditions and which state of the car – heavy fuel loads and so on.
“So everyone is under pressure to copy and come up with something similar, which is very difficult because McLaren has been planning this for a long time. And, it is not that easy even if you have it to make it work, to operate with it.”
However McLaren star Lewis Hamilton claims that this weekend in China, the F-Duct is of little advantage.
“The car does feel good, but our pace looks pretty similar to some of the other cars on long runs. Everyone talks about us having a straight-line advantage, but that’s not true – other cars have the same speed as us at the end of the straight.
“We’re a little bit quicker than some teams, but, equally, they’re able to run more downforce. It’s about getting a good balance – and we feel we’ve got that. We’re continuing with the good feeling we felt in Malaysia, but we’ve made some further subtle changes and they were encouraging. I come out of today with a positive feeling – we’ll now keep our heads down and concentrate on gaining a strong qualifying position tomorrow.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has announced that McLaren Autmotive Holdings have purchased back a significant amount of the shares owned by Mercedes Benz in the McLaren F1 Team.
Prior to buying Brawn GP and turning it into a works Mercedes Benz outfit, the German car manufacturer bought up a significant portion of the team during their close partnership between 1997 and 2009, approximately 40% of the team was owned by them at the end of last year.
Ron Dennis, the former team principal owns 15% and is now in charge of their road car division, which launched the eagerly anticipated MP4-12C yesterday, a 200mph supercar designed to compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Aston Martin DBS.
Mansour Ojjeh, a Saudi Arabian businessman owns another 15% portion, and Mumtalakat, a Bahrain investor owns 30%.
“I think it is about 11 per cent that is still owned by Mercedes, but it’s not an important or significant number,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Reuters.