Crash.Net F1 News
Hamilton pits hopes on Shanghai track record
14 April 2012
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has a strong record in the Chinese Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton admits that this, combined with his own enjoyment of the Shanghai International Circuit, gives him hope of overcoming a five-place grid penalty and producing a victory on Sunday.
The Briton will start, at best, sixth on the grid for round three of the championship after McLaren was forced to make a precautionary gearbox change after a crack was found in the unit that had completed both the Australian and Malaysian races, but taking two of the Woking team's three wins in eight races in Shanghai - and setting the pace on both Friday and Saturday morning in 2012 - fuels his optimism.
"I have some vivid memories of racing in China - some good, some not so good!," he admitted, reflecting on the downside of his first visit in 2007 as well as the successes, "I've won there twice, and both were victories I'm really proud of. In 2008, it was a very important race, and I really needed a good result for the championship - we had a pretty much perfect weekend with pole position, fastest lap and the race win. Then, in 2011, coming off the back of a difficult weekend in Malaysia, I had a great race, kept pushing every lap and managed to take the lead right at the end. It was a very important win because it showed that we could be a force in the championship that year."
With two poles to his credit in 2012, but only a brace of third-place finishes to show for them, Hamilton knows that another strong performance is required to keep his nose in front of the title race once, as expected, Fernando Alonso's shock Malaysian win is swamped by more normal results. The grid penalty obviously does not help his cause, but Hamilton refuses to be brought down by the setback.
"Of course, that is not fantastic news, but we still have a quick car and, if we make the right calls and run the right strategy in the race, we still should be able to fight for the lead," he told the official F1 website, "I still feel very positive. We came here with some upgrades, so I am pretty convinced that we will be able to fight for podium places. Last year, I started here from P3 and won the race - and if you look at the last race, where Fernando came from way back and won, I would say that anything is possible!
"We have just to keep on moving forward. Fact is, I am pretty happy that I had two podiums so far and that I have a good car and am in a good position. I have been training very hard to get myself in the right frame of mind for this weekend and, while I have come here with a small issue, I still feel very positive about this weekend as we still have the chance to put on a good race. When I was a kid I always loved to come from the back, so as I will start the race five places back from where I qualify I will have fights with quite a few people for positions - and I'm really looking forward to it."
Despite insisting that he is happy enough with his results so far in 2012, Hamilton admits that he really should have done better from pole position.
"When you start from pole position, then you don't want to accept anything less than a win," he acknowledged, "If you start further back, then anything moving forward can be accepted, but, of course, I want to win - that clearly is my target.
"I have to transform my qualifying qualities into results. After the last race, we went back to the factory and sat down with the engineers and went through [the races], particularly our pit-stops, where we seem not to be the best at the moment, and fixed some things that had been a problem. Hopefully they will never be a problem again and we should be much better at our pit-stops this weekend."
Friday's performance, while generally accepted to be of little guide to form, clearly buoyed Hamilton heading into the rest of the weekend.
"It worked very well - all the bits and pieces that we brought here work well, and it stayed dry, which helped a lot," he concluded, "We could work on our set-up. I am happy with the way the balance is - the car is getting better with every race. That will hopefully compensate for the grid penalty."