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Super-charged Lewis Hamilton eyes repeat win in Valencia

McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain signs autographs during the supporters pit walk on the Valencia street circuit in Valencia, Spain, Thursday, June 21, 2012. (AP photo/Alberto Saiz)

VALENCIA, Spain: Canadian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton said he was “super-motivated” to produce another strong performance this weekend as he aims to extend his lead in the world championship.

Thanks to his emphatic win in Montreal, the 27-year-old McLaren driver heads to the European Grand Prix with a two-point lead in what has been the sport’s most extraordinary start to a season with seven different drivers winning the opening seven races.

That means the top four drivers are separated by nine points, and Hamilton is well aware of how tight things are and how much of a threat second-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, pose to his title hopes.

However, although the maturing Englishman will be hoping to become the first driver to win two races this season, he remained level-headed and believes consistent driving, rather than wins, will be the key to winning the championship.

“While it’s always pleasing to be leading the championship, I’m only two points ahead of Fernando which is nothing, particularly when there is a handful of really strong drivers all separated by a couple of points, so there’s still everything to play for,” Hamilton said.

“Second, the intensity of this year’s championship means there’s so little breathing space – we may have won in Canada, but there’s an enormous amount of pressure to keep racking up good results at every grand prix.

“I think that consistency, rather than individual strong results, will be the key to winning this world championship, so we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result.

“I’ll be heading to Valencia feeling super-motivated to get another strong result and maintain my momentum before we head to Silverstone and the British Grand Prix.”

His McLaren team also believe they may have found a solution for Jenson Button, who, in contrast to Hamilton, has been struggling of late, collecting just 20 points since his win in Australia in March.

The two drivers have been driving more or less the same car, and although Button has had his fair share of mechanical issues, the 2009 champion has struggled with his car’s setup and been unable to match his teammate’s pace.

However, McLaren’s operations director Simon Roberts believe his team may have identified the problem.

“I think Canada was very interesting because fundamentally we run the same car for both drivers and they both have the same parts available,” Roberts said.

“Although we allow them to adapt the setup to their driving style, clearly we had something fundamentally different in terms of the tire performance and car performance.

“We’ve been able to actually capitalize on that and there’s been a huge amount of work back at the factory analyzing the data and just checking that everything was as we thought it was.

“We’re pretty sure at the moment that there was nothing untoward with Jenson’s car and actually nothing fundamentally wrong with the setup, but in the subtleties of these cars there are some differences, and I think going to Valencia we are optimistic that we’ve identified that.”

A strong performance from McLaren this weekend could see them overhaul the Red Bull team in the constructor’s standings.

The Milton Keynes-based team currently hold a 31-point advantage.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 22, 2012, on page 14.

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