Lewis Hamilton is certain that he is the man to keep Red bull Racing in check at this weekend's British Grand Prix, despite being as surprised as anyone by the performance shown by Sebastian Vettel in the last race in Valencia.
While the second RBR entry of Mark Webber was making progress through the field after qualifying problems, it was Vettel who held Hamilton's attention, pulling out a lead at more than a second a lap around the tricky street course in the Spanish city. Although the reigning world champion's run came to a crushing end when the alternator on his Renault engine packed up during the safety car period, Hamilton was unable to capitalise after crashing out late on with Pastor Maldonado and, having dropped to third in the championship standings, the Briton is wary of a repeat from Red Bull on his home circuit this weekend.
"The pace [Vettel] had at the last race was ridiculous," Hamilton noted to Britain's Daily Mirror
newspaper, "He made a 20-second lead in something like ten laps. Ridiculous."
Having only once succeeded in winning his home race, en route
to his 2008 world title triumph, Hamilton would dearly love to be on the top step on Sunday but admits that, in a season where only unpredictability has become predictable, nothing is certain, especially with Red Bull's latest raft of upgrades appearing to have thrown a spanner in the works.
"It is not a worry for me because it is what it is," he said of the RB8's new-found pace, " love winning the British Grand Prix and getting that trophy, it's the best trophy I have ever seen.... but I have no idea how the cars and tyres will behave. It is going to be Red Bull, Ferrari and us, but maybe some other people too, at Silverstone."
Although McLaren started the season with the best car, locking out the front row in both Australia and Malaysia, with Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button winning in Melbourne, the field has evened up in recent months, with both Red Bull and Ferrari overcoming slow starts and Mercedes and Lotus showing that they deserve to be at the front as well. Although the development race continues throughout the season, Hamilton admits that now would be the ideal time for McLaren to make a breakthrough.
"We are in a different year and at the point where it is a car that you can fine-tune, but to get that big step is difficult," he conceded, "They have got to start bringing all the small bits, the details and everything. I have been in the factory and I am reassured that we have things, they have been tested and been in the simulator, so it is a question of pushing to get those things and hoping that they deliver what they are saying."