As the driver in-form with arguably now the best car underneath him heading into the forthcoming European Grand Prix, F1 2010 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has warned his rivals that he has ‘some unfinished business’ in Valencia – and that he plans to finish it off.
Hamilton has taken the chequered flag as runner-up around the harbourside streets of the Spanish city in both editions so far, even setting pole position in 2009 only to find himself pipped to the highest step on the podium by Brawn GP rival Rubens Barrichello.
Twelve months on, however, and nobody has been able to knock the 25-year-old down from his pedestal since the Turkish Grand Prix, with back-to-back triumphs in Istanbul and Montreal vaulting the 2008 F1 World Champion to the top of the title standings – and he makes it very clear that with his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 improving by the race and tipped to be in its element in Valencia, he is chasing both a hat-trick of victories and third time lucky this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to racing in Valencia,” Hamilton confessed. “I had a great, attacking race there last year – but I’ve finished second for the past two seasons, so I feel like I have some unfinished business!
“I also think it’s good for the championship to have a variety of circuits – we’ve just come from a fast, flowing road course in Canada, to a tight street track in Valencia, and next month we’ll be at Silverstone – one of the fastest tracks of the year, and a circuit with incredible history. As a driver, that sort of variety makes the racing exciting and unpredictable, which is all you can really ask for.
“The last few grands prix have had some fantastic racing – it would be great for all the Spanish fans if we can have a great race here too. It’s not a circuit where we’ve seen too much passing in the past, but I think this year could be different – the grid is so tight and there were battles all through the field in Montreal last week, so I think we could have a close and exciting race this year.”
Hamilton’s enthusiasm for what lies ahead is shared by team-mate and title-winning successor Jenson Button, who sits just three markers adrift of his countryman in the points table after finishing a close second to him in both Turkey and Canada. The Frome-born ace’s record in Valencia is on paper substantially less impressive – with a lowly and distant seventh place there last season the highlight – but now fully in possession of the tools to do the job, the 30-year-old expects to put up a strong fight this weekend.
“As a team, we’ve taken maximum points in the last two races and it feels like we’ve really gathered considerable momentum,” the nine-time grand prix-winner underlined. “The team really is functioning as a single unit, so I think we head into Valencia hopeful of being able to once again capitalise on that determination and ambition.
“Even though it’s a street circuit, it’s got quite a different feel to other street tracks like Monte Carlo or Singapore. For a start, it’s quite a bit faster – there are some low-speed corners with some fairly unforgiving walls at the apex, but there are also some high-speed changes of direction and some long straights, so it’s quite an interesting place set-up wise. It’s not as if you completely rely on downforce; there’s a trade-off, and that should suit our package.
“Valencia is also the final race before two important stop-offs in the UK – our home race at Silverstone and, before that, the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Both are events where the British fans will be out in-force, and as world champion, I’m looking forward to them. Silverstone will be an incredible experience, and I get to achieve a childhood dream of driving one of Alain Prost’s classic McLarens, the MP4/2C, at Goodwood. Sometimes, I can’t believe how lucky I am.”