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Optimistic Hamilton 'shooting for top five' in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton was in buoyant spirits after winding up second-quickest in opening practice for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix – and insists he is confident of being able to 'shoot for the top five' in qualifying on Saturday.

Having finished a close if unhappy runner-up to then McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Fernando Alonso on his maiden Formula 1 appearance in the glamorous Principality back in 2007, last year Hamilton made amends by charging to a superb victory – and one he had to work hard for along the way following an early error in tricky conditions.

There were no such errors in practice twelve months on, as the Stevenage-born ace reminded everybody in the paddock just why he is the defending F1 World Champion to lap third-fastest in the morning running and improve by more than two seconds to second place in the afternoon behind good friend and former karting sparring partner Nico Rosberg, getting through more than 60 laps in the process. Despite McLaren's trying start to the 2009 campaign, a similar result in qualifying, he hinted, may not be entirely out of the question.

“Driving around Monaco is a spectacular sensation,” the 24-year-old enthused. “You can't compare it to any other circuit. You get such a huge buzz here. I love this place – it reminds me how much I love this sport, why I love racing and why I love Formula 1.

“From today's performance, I think Q3 is definitely possible on Saturday. I'm optimistic about shooting for the top five – I hope we can get there.”

Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was similarly up at the sharp end of proceedings throughout the first day, backing Hamilton ably up in fourth early on – despite becoming one of many drivers to take a quick run up the Ste Devote escape road – and ending proceedings a competitive seventh, a sure tonic after the Finn has generally found himself on the receiving end of a run of ill-fortune thus far in 2009.

“Lots of traffic today,” reported the 28-year-old after a marathon 75 laps inside the cockpit, “but that's normal for Monaco. Today's running tells us we'll be more competitive here. The team has worked very well and my car was in good shape straightaway this morning.

“The most important thing is that we've made consistent improvements – we've made good progress on the set-up and I've been dialling myself further into the car and the track on each run. While our car seems to behave well around here, there's still some work to do – we won't be able to do miracles over the weekend.”

Nonetheless, second and seventh positions mark a significant improvement on McLaren's Barcelona form a fortnight ago, when the Circuit de Catalunya's many high-speed corners highlighted the MP4-24 aerodynamic deficiencies and saw a helpless Hamilton finish outside the points in ninth place. The Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident it will be a different story around the narrow, tortuous streets of the Principality – where it has triumphed on a record 15 previous occasions.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-24, Monaco F1 Grand Prix, 21st-24th, May 2009
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H

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RawDawg

May 21, 2009 7:44 PM

Lewis is showing his ability at a drivers track and doesn't have to rely on great aerodynamics at Monaco. Hopefully, him and Jenson will be in a straight fight this weekend. That's what the fans want to see - at least I do!

RawDawg

May 21, 2009 9:59 PM

Oops! I meant to say crap teams instead of crap cars as most lower formulas are spec series. The lower formulas are about showing your skills and winning - something LH has done spectacularly. That my friend is without question. Racing is about winning titles - another thing he has be exceptional in doing. How many rookies could go toe-to-toe with a 2 time F1 Champ in his prime in the same car? That's all I needed to know about LH's "talent". Funny how people say "it's only because of the car" yet Alonso didn't blow him out of the water in said car and Alonso is widely acknowledge as being very talented.



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