F1 »

Hamilton confident as he seeks repeat Fuji glory.

F1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton signalled his firm intention to stamp his authority on both the Japanese Grand Prix and 2008 title chase in opening practice at Fuji Speedway this weekend, by outpacing chief rival Felipe Massa to end the first day as the top-placed contender for the crown.

The McLaren-Mercedes star was sublime at Fuji in 2007, keeping his head in torrential conditions to triumph in the first grand prix to be held there in three decades. With his duel for glory with Massa balanced precariously on a knife-edge entering the final three grands prix of the current campaign and seemingly little to choose between the pair, out-pointing the Brazilian in both sessions – including going quickest of all in the morning – preserved Hamilton's vital psychological edge.

“Fuji is a place I really enjoy,” the 23-year-old acknowledged. “It's not the easiest of tracks because it requires a good set-up to get the best from the car, but I had no complaints today. We were immediately on the pace, and found a very good balance straightaway. In the afternoon I did a promising longer run with no major problems, and I feel confident about our pace for the rest of the weekend.”

Crucial to Hamilton's title challenge will be the back-up of Heikki Kovalainen, and in what looks set to be a supremely closely-matched field this weekend the three tenths deficit separating the Finn from his British team-mate – fairly characteristic of the 2008 season as a whole – meant six positions in the order, whereas countryman Kimi Raikkonen supported Massa perfectly in fifth.

“Today was a pretty straightforward practice day with no major problems,” an unflustered Kovalainen underlined afterwards. “We successfully went through our tyre comparison programme, which went well.

“We made some good progress with the set-up into the afternoon, and that also made me feel a lot more confident about attacking this place. I don't think today's times are totally representative, but we're certainly in good shape for the rest of the weekend.”

Whilst this time twelve months ago Fuji was very much a McLaren circuit, this year it is difficult to know which way the pendulum will swing, with Ferrari having out-paced the Silver Arrows in Valencia and Singapore of late – both venues where the latter were expected to hold the upper hand. With just a single point separating the two teams in the constructors' standings, every point from hereon in will be absolutely critical.

“Today we conducted two trouble-free sessions,” summarised the Woking-based outfit's team principal Ron Dennis, “encountering no problems with either of our cars. [It was] a normal day at the office, you could say.

“Having said that, whomever I talk to in our team, I notice the same thing – we're more together, more focused, more committed and more motivated than ever before.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-23, Belgian F1 Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, 5-7th, September, 2008
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen 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

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.