Hamilton looking to get F1 title defence back on track in Chinese GP qualifying

LEWIS Hamilton could get his flagging F1 world title defence back on track in China this weekend. The 24-year-old from Herts has been off the pace in the first two grands prix of the year, in Australia and Malaysia, after a troubled start to the 2009 seas

LEWIS Hamilton could get his flagging F1 world title defence back on track in China this weekend.

The 24-year-old from Herts has been off the pace in the first two grands prix of the year, in Australia and Malaysia, after a troubled start to the 2009 season.

However, McLaren workers have modified the MP4-24 for the Chinese Grand Prix and these seemed to have improved Hamilton's performance.

Tewin race ace Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit and will be looking to break into the top 10 for the first time in qualifying at breakfast time today (Saturday).

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, was happy with events in China yesterday (Friday).

He said: "The team, both at the track and back in the factory, has done a fantastic job to get these bodywork upgrades to Shanghai - and initial analysis would suggest that they have contributed to a slight uplift in our overall competitiveness.

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"We are still working on MP4-24's overall balance, but nonetheless concluded some productive tyre evaluation work."

Speaking yesterday after practice, Norbert Haug, the vice-president of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, added: "Seeing Lewis in P1 after this morning's session brought back some good memories - although we are aware that the team's package is not yet competitive.

"Still, the improvements we have made to the car, which are particularly relentless at the moment, should see us making another encouraging step forward.

"Sunday's race will be greatly influenced by the performance over a stint of the Bridgestone super-soft, but our consistency on both tyres looks quite okay at this early stage of the weekend."

Hamilton won the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix on his way to the world title.

He has collected just one point so far this year, with Brawn GP driver Jenson Button victorious in both Melbourne and Sepang.

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