Friday, 22 October 2010

Lewis Hamilton must get straight to the points at South Korea Grand Prix



Face the music: Lewis Hamilton hopes the McLarens¿ straight-line top speed of 195mph will give them the edge in Korea

Lewis Hamilton comes to the three-quarters of a mile on which he must race back into world championship contention, having endured one of the toughest journeys of his life.

Tomorrow he will hurtle down the concrete-lined straight separating the second and third turns of the Yeongam circuit that will host the first Korean Grand Prix.

It is the space where Hamilton and his fellow British driver Jenson Button hope the aerodynamics of their McLarens will outpace the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

If they cannot do it here, they cannot do it anywhere. But for Hamilton the task is trivial compared to the trials he has faced over the past year: splitting with his pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, getting back together, fretting over his grandad Davidson's illness back in Grenada and, most potently, terminating his father Anthony's role as manager-cum-inspiration.

Opening up in the paddock on the outskirts of Mokpo, the 2008 world champion said: 'It's not been the greatest year for many, many reasons.

Not just in Formula One, but outside of it - family-wise. Some family members have not been well and the whole situation with my dad has been difficult.

'Things are better but it still took a massive toll on him and my mum and my team and myself. It's been different not having them at races - a real transition.

'When my dad was here and we had the fastest car and things were going awesomely well, in 2007 for example, that was a year when most things were all a positive.

'It's just there were some negatives this year but I've gradually turned them into positives.'

So will his father - Lewis's reference point for 24 of his 25 years - be back? 'No,' he said emphatically. 'I don't think the split has impacted on me on the track - just in my private time away from the circuit. It's just not as easy when you go around to the house.

'It wasn't as perfect as when he was working with me at the beginning. It's gradually getting better.'

Hamilton will be in the world he knows best on that long straight here. He and Button will hope to push past 195mph.

Their championship rivals, operating without McLaren's f-duct, which reduces drag and so increases straight-line speed, might nudge 190.

The question is whether the pair can garner enough advantage there - as well as on the final

straight and the one after the third turn - to sustain them through the creepycrawly middle part of the circuit that plays to Red Bull's strengths.

Button, who is fourth in the standings and 31 points off Webber, admitted: 'It's do or die.' To do, Hamilton needs to rediscover the error-free route through traffic that has eluded him in recent weeks.

His mistakes have led to the question: should he not rein in his gung-ho exuberance? That is an academic argument this weekend because, being 28 points off Webber with three races left, he must go on full attack and pray that the Red Bulls suffer misfortune.

That is the dream scenario for the McLaren boys, neither of whom is quite out of the reckoning, judging by the table.

In 2007, Kimi Raikkonen beat Hamilton to the title despite going into the last two grands prix trailing by 17 points - in the days when 10 points were awarded for a win, rather than 25 as they are now.

There are still 75 up for grabs. It is, therefore, more a matter of whether McLaren can capitalise on the one remaining track that suits them.

Can they then plunder points if Webber, Vettel and Alonso tighten up as the title beckons in Brazil and in the closing round in Abu Dhabi?

My suspicion is that Alonso might prove the toughest rival of them all. The Spaniard thrives on pressure, knowing how to absorb it and apply it.

Two world titles is testament to that. He feels comfortable at Ferrari. The Italians are not sharing their love around as Red Bull and McLaren have promised to do as long as both their drivers are in contention.

Felipe Massa is now Alonso's lickspittle. And, as with the British pair, Alonso can race with the freedom of the pursuer.

He did, however, provide a word of encouragement to Hamilton last night, saying: 'Lewis qualified third in Suzuka (at the last race) and I reckon he is one of the favourites to win this Grand Prix.'

source: dailymail

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