Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hamilton hoping for rain - NEWS

Saturday 24th May 2008

Lewis Hamilton is convinced a wet Monaco Grand Prix will afford him his best chance of victory.

Hamilton surprisingly failed to add his name to the roll call of honour of nine previous Britons who have qualified on pole for the blue riband event of Formula One.

The 23-year-old had looked strong in practice, and after McLaren's dominance of a year ago was odds-on to join an illustrious list of names that includes Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Graham and Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, David Coulthard and Tony Brooks.

Instead, Hamilton will start from third on the grid behind an all-Ferrari front row of pole-sitter Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

However, while the rain stayed away for qualifying after showers in the morning, there is a 90 per cent chance that the heavens will open on race day, so turning the track into an ice rink and making the race a lottery.

Hamilton believes he can take advantage of such conditions, even if he was hit-and-miss in the wet last year as he slid off at the Nurburgring before trailing home ninth in the European Grand Prix, prior to a fine win at the Japanese Grand Prix in Fuji.

"Tomorrow is going to be a lot harder than the two wet races we had last year, but I've always been strong in the wet," said Hamilton

"As long as we choose the right tyre, I'm fully focused, don't make any mistakes, we should be able to bring the car home in a strong points-scoring finish.

"If it is wet, it will give me even more of an opportunity to win, compared to it being dry because with me third it will be almost impossible to overtake.

"But in the wet, you can get a little closer, you're a little less reliant on downforce and you might be able to push other people into making mistakes.

"I'm sure if it is wet there will be a few safety cars, so it could be a really exciting race."

Despite the Ferraris ahead of him, Hamilton was not too downbeat on a track where it is imperative to be on pole, suggesting his team's strategy could have the edge on the Ferraris.

"I'm confident that one day pretty soon it's going to be an all-silver front row, so I'm not worried by Ferrari," added Hamilton, who has team-mate Heikki Kovalainen behind him in fourth.

"We're a solid team and we're working hard. We are at the top and we can't forget that, whilst there's still a long way to go.

"Tomorrow we can still have a full-silver finish. We're on the second row and can still do a solid job.

"We did anticipate being a little quicker, and we are surprised by Ferrari's pace, but I'm happy with the strategy we're on, so we'll see what happens."

Since Hamilton's pole-to-flag victory in the season-opening race in Australia, Ferrari have almost totally dominated by winning the last four grands prix and being on pole in three of those.

But Hamilton, who trails championship leader Raikkonen by seven points, is not fazed by the form and pace of the scarlet machines.

"I don't get worried," asserted Hamilton.

"There's a concern, it's something we need to try and understand, and work to improve.

"You can see we're quick, that we're very close. We just have to keep on pushing."

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