By Alan Davies
, Formula One correspondent
Monday, April 9, 2012
LEWIS Hamilton’s Formula 1 boss at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is expecting the team to shine in Shanghai next weekend at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
* Wins 3 (2008, 2010, 2011)
* Poles 2 (2007, 2008)
* Fastest laps 3 (2005, 2008, 2010)
McLaren’s drivers completed front-row lock-outs in the season opening races in Australia and Malaysia.
Hamilton, the 27-year-old F1 driver from Hertfordshire, bagged pole position for both rounds of the FIA world championship, but failed to convert his starting positions into victories, having to settle for third places in both Melbourne and Sepang.
McLaren has a strong record in the Chinese Grand Prix, winning the race three times, with Hamilton taking the chequered flag last season and in 2008.
Hamilton’s McLaren colleague Button took the top step on the podium in 2010.
* Age: 27 (January 7, 1985)
* Grands Prix: 92
* Wins: 17
* Pole positions: 21
* Fastest lap: 11
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal at McLaren, is looking for another strong showing in China around the breathtaking Shanghai International Circuit.
Whitmarsh said: “The Chinese Grand Prix is a race in which we’ve traditionally gone very well – we’ve won three of the past four races here, all of which have come through faultless performances from Jenson and Lewis – and we head to Shanghai this year keen to add to that tally.
“While there are mixed feelings to have only been able to convert two all-front-row starting positions into one race win, everybody here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes feels extremely encouraged by our pace in the first two grands prix of the season.”
He’s not resulting on his laurels though. Whitmarsh added: “Make no mistake, however, we’re acutely aware that our rivals won’t have stood still during the past three weeks.
“We’ve certainly been extremely busy, too, and we don’t take anything for granted.
“If the overall competitive order was a little hard to read in the first two races, I have no doubt that it will start to become clearer next weekend, and I strongly believe that, once again, it will be closely fought at the front.”
Hamilton certainly feels he has a winning car in this season’s MP4-27 challenger.
“I think the first two races have shown that, as a team, we’re definitely in positions to win,” said the Herts-born 2008 F1 world champion.
“I’ll be heading to China looking to win – but it’s just as important to pick up some good points if, for whatever reason, a win isn’t on the cards.”
The 2012 Chinese Grand Prix starts at 8am British Summer Time on Sunday.