22 October 2011
Hamilton looking forward to 'sports-mad' India
The McLaren-Mercedes team is looking forward to the chance to show-off F1 to a whole new audience in India - and are confident they have the car to win the final races of 2011.
"You can't believe how many people are aware of F1 and how many are looking forward to the race next week," said Lewis Hamilton, looking ahead to next week's inaugural F1 Grand Prix of India at the newly constructed Buddh International Circuit.
"India's a sport-mad nation," he continued. "Mostly, it's about cricket, which is understandable because they're a very successful cricketing country, but I really think the people of India are going to take F1 to their hearts.
"There's already a great deal of knowledge about the sport, I think it's going to be a big deal," he said. "I really hope India will get turned on to F1 in a big way - it would be amazing to have an entire continent supporting you - and I really hope we can put on a fantastic race!"
"The word is that people in India are really excited about F1 and the event," agreed his team mate Jenson Button. "It's important for the sport that we make a good first impression and I really hope we have a fantastic race."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh was also keen to make sure that F1's first race in India was a success for all concerned, and underlined how vital it was for the future of the sport.
"Certainly, every new venue we visit is important," he said." I think it's important that the world championship is fully represented on the world's stage - and a Grand Prix in India is certainly a very positive step.
"For F1, the most important thing is to educate, nurture and cultivate our audience - I firmly believe that F1 is the greatest sport in the world and I want us to spread that word across the whole Indian subcontinent.
"We want to take F1 to the people," he added. "I'm told that the prospect of the Grand Prix is causing a great deal of excitement within the city and the country as a whole," he said. "So I think we're doing everything right - and I sincerely hope we can walk away on Sunday evening having done a great job for the country and for F1."
Playing down recent reports of problems surrounding Lewis Hamilton, Whitmarsh would only focus on taking "plenty of positives" from recent weeks.
"I think Jenson's win in Japan and Lewis's drive in Korea were two of the best performances of their respective careers," he said. "Both drivers are motivated to win and want to lead the team through these final few races and into the winter. There's a lot of positive energy back at McLaren Technology Centre, and you're seeing that at the racetrack, too."
Hamilton agreed that things were looking forward for the team going into the final races of 2011. "I think we're set to be competitive at all of the final three races," he said. "We were quick at Singapore, Japan and Korea - and I think the pattern at the front has sort of settled down now as we reach the end of the season. I think we have a car that can be quick anywhere, so I'd like to think we'd be in the hunt again next weekend."
"Our car's been pretty competitive recently and we'd like to win more races before the end of the season," concurred Button.
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