Lewis Hamilton knows he has a standard to maintain as he heads to the fifth meeting of the 2007 Formula 1 campaign in Monaco next weekend - not only in terms of his early world championship lead, but also his unbroken record of success in the Principality.

The young Briton has taken the sport by storm so far in 2007, finishing on the podium in every race he has contested and taking control of the drivers' standings less than two months into his rookie season. Although he is well aware Monaco represents a different kettle of fish entirely to the opening four grands prix, he is determined to keep up his stunning form there.

"I'm really looking forward to Monaco," the 22-year-old enthused. "It's one of the tracks I have always dreamed of racing at in Formula 1, particularly having competed there for the past two seasons in the F3 Euroseries and GP2."

That, indeed, is rather a humble understatement, as the reigning GP2 champion has not merely competed in Monaco, far more impressively still he has triumphed on every occasion to-date. It is clear he shares a strong affinity with the Mediterranean track, though he is keen to play down his expectations ahead of his maiden Formula 1 outing there.

"For me it is the best circuit of the year," he stated. "There is nowhere else like it for getting the adrenaline going, because the track is so tight and there are no run-off areas. You have to be incredibly precise; there is no room for error and as a driver that makes it all-the-more exciting.

"I have always run well at Monaco, having won there on my previous two visits to the race. I am going to the race again this year with the intention of fighting for the win, but that is the case with everything I compete in. However, we do have to keep being realistic - this will be my fifth race in Formula 1 and I am still developing. We have to focus on keeping scoring points for both the constructors' and drivers' championships and take it step-by-step."

McLaren-Mercedes CEO Martin Whitmarsh is also confident of a good result this coming weekend, with the outfit bidding to both extend its narrow lead in both championships as the series heads deeper into its crucial mid-season European phase.

"For the team to be arriving in Monaco, race five of the 2007 world championship, leading the constructors' table and occupying the top two positions of the drivers' table is incredibly positive and pleasing for everyone involved," the Briton remarked. "However, within the organisation we expect our performance to be at this level - anything below is a disappointment - and we are fully focused on continuing to raise our game."

 

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