Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Though McLaren have promised Lewis Hamilton a faster car for the German Grand Prix at the end of next week, the 22 year-old Englishman has also vowed to raise his own game after finishing “only” third in last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Hamilton had started from pole position and on the two previous occasions he had been fastest in qualifying – in Canada and America in June – he had gone on to win. But this time handling problems on his McLaren kept him to a finish on the lowest step of the podium, behind winner Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Fernando Alonso. It was the ninth consecutive podium of his nine-race career, and great champions such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna never managed such a feat. Previously the only Briton to have done so was the Scottish legend Jim Clark in his title-winning 1963 season, but even he did not do it in his first nine grands prix. Nevertheless, Hamilton said he was not satisfied.
“I never thought of giving up and just kept pushing, because you never know what might happen,” he said. “They could come together or run into backmarkers… The team tell you to wind the engine down but you still keep pushing yourself to compensate for that.
“I think I need to step up my game, which I intend to do, and the team need to push as always, but to push even more. I am still learning, there is still time to find in myself. Knowing the tracks should be easier, but I have been here [Silverstone] before and I struggled all weekend in terms of pace.”
McLaren begin testing at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium today, ahead of their engine partner Mercedes-Benz’s home race at the Nurburgring on 22 July.
“We’ve got new aerodynamic components and various other parts we are putting on the car,” the team’s chief operating officer, Martin Whitmarsh, said. “We will come out of that test with a quicker car, and Ferrari will undoubtedly improve their car. So it’s down to who improves their car the most.
“I predict that we are going to see the fortunes swing either way in what’s going to be a classic and exciting championship. We’ve now had nine races and 16 times we’ve had a car on the podium. It is so tight now in performance and reliability that any of us can trip up now. If just one of your cars doesn’t score points, then the pendulum swings very quickly.”
Alluding to Hamilton’s vow to up his game, Whitmarsh added: “I think it’s a very telling thing to say. By any extraordinary measure, he’s done a fantastic job. We all have to raise our game.
“Winning world championships is tougher than it’s ever been and we’ve got to produce a quicker car. It’s extraordinary that Lewis feels like that, but that’s one of his great strengths. He knows the team’s working very hard, he knows that we expect to have a quicker car at every successive race.”