McLaren title contenders – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton arrived at Spa eager to get back on track at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, convinced that McLaren are now genuine contenders for both Formula One world championships.
The Woking-based team struggled to find results during a first half of the season littered with costly errors and misfortunes, but a late push from the team saw them back in contention in Germany before Hamilton secured victory in Budapest prior to the five-week summer hiatus.
The 2008 champion, now fourth in the title race, admitted his victory had been a welcome boost and the team were now feeling a lot more confident going into the final nine races.
“My win in Hungary was a fantastic way to go into the summer break,” he said, “it had the added bonus of sending the whole team away for their holidays with a positive feeling in their hearts.
“It’s also given me the hope and assurance that we can come back for the final nine races with a real chance to go for both championships.”
However, given the unpredictable start to the season which saw seven different drivers win the opening seven races, the 2008 champion said there were still no clear title favourites and admitted that his main focus would be on reeling in championship leader Fernando Alonso, of Ferrari, who holds a 47-point lead over the Briton.
He said: “Given the unpredictability of the sport, I think it’s still difficult to predict accurately who’ll win the next grand prix, but I reckon the coming few weeks ought to give us a much clearer idea of the destination of the world title.
“It’s going to be an extremely tough, tactical and interesting finale to the season.
“There’s no team with a clear advantage although we’re all pushing hard to catch Fernando Alonso’s points tally in the drivers’ champion-ship... so there’s still everything to play for.”
Belgian GP statistics...
Circuit length: 7.004 kilometres.
Race distance: 308.052 kilometres.
Lap record: 1:45.108 (Kimi Raikkonen, 2004).
2011 pole position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:48.298.
2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).
2011 fastest lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:49.883.
Number of corners: 19 (10 left/9 right).
Tyre compounds to be used: Hard/medium.
Overtaking chance: Medium-low.
Engine severity: Very high.
Brake wear severity: Low.
Average lap speed: 222 kph.
Full throttle per lap: 80 per cent.
Gear changes per lap: 48 (race = 2,112 times).
2011 winning strategy: Three stops (laps 5, 13, 30).