As he bids to keep himself in contention for a second world championship title into the F1 2010 Abu Dhabi season finale, McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has conceded that he would appreciate 'a nice, straightforward' Brazilian Grand Prix this season, after encountering something of 'a unique experience' at Interlagos every year to-date.
Having been on-course to clinch the coveted drivers' crown during his maiden campaign of top flight competition in 2007, a gearbox glitch early on in Brazil cost the British ace half-a-minute and sent him plummeting down the order, from where he could recover to only seventh place at the chequered flag – agonisingly leaving him just two points shy of pipping Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen to the laurels.
Twelve months on and the tables were turned, as in a topsy-turvy race dominated by frustratingly changeable weather conditions, Hamilton found himself in sixth position entering the last lap – and needing fifth to deprive Raikkonen's team-mate Felipe Massa of glory.
Almost miraculously, just two corners from the end he came across Toyota's Timo Glock – the German grappling around woefully for grip on exhausted tyres – and swept past to nick the trophy away from his Brazilian adversary, whose emotions changed from elation to despair within seconds.
Continuing with the theme, in 2009, the 14-time grand prix-winner got caught out by a tricky, rain-afflicted qualifying session that left him a lowly 17th on the starting grid in São Paulo – from where he stormed his way up the order on race day and onto the podium in third place. Heroics aside, he knows he can ill-afford such unpredictability this time around if he is to keep himself in the fight for the world championship at 21 points adrift of the lead.
“I always seem to have a unique experience in Brazil,” Hamilton quipped. “In my first year in F1, I battled past a load of cars but could only finish seventh, losing out on the world championship. The following year, I had another tricky race, but managed to take fifth position on the final lap to win the world title. Last year, we got qualifying wrong and I started 17th, but I used KERS to boost my way up to third in one of the best races of my career. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like a nice, straightforward race this year!
“We go to Brazil knowing that we may not have the fastest car, but we'll have a decent package that should work well. We have a strong engine and good straight-line speed, so I think we'll still be quick – crucially, that combination should give us the opportunity to pass into the first corner, which is probably the best overtaking spot on the track.
“I know the world championship is figuring in everybody's thoughts at the moment, but I'm not thinking about it too much. I need to get a good result in Brazil to take the fight to Abu Dhabi, so that's my priority. Whatever happens, it's going to be a very tight battle.”