F1: 2011 Korean Grand Prix victory in Hamilton’s sights

Spray flies off Lewis Hamilton's McLaren during the Korean Grand Prix [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

Spray flies off Lewis Hamilton's McLaren during the Korean Grand Prix [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

HOCH ZWEI

FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton is looking to win Sunday’s 2011 Korean Grand Prix after a shocking race in Japan.

The Herts-born racer hopes to go one better than his second place finish at Yeongam last season in the rain-hit inaugural grand prix of South Korea.

“Second was a good place to start last year, but I want to go one better in 2011,” said the heavily-criticised Vodafone McLaren Mercedes man.

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, was only fifth in Sunday’s Japanese race around the famous Suzuka circuit, after what he called “a shocking” performance.

However, the 26-year-old from Hertfordshire, is looking to get his miserable season back on track around the anti-clockwise Korea International Circuit.

He finished runner-up to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso 12 months ago, with the race temporarily halted due to treacherous conditions after a torrential storm had flooded the track.

Hamilton said: “I had a pretty good race here last year, finishing second.

“It was a long, tough afternoon, but I’m glad we got the chance to put on a race for all the fans who’d come for the first-ever grand prix in Korea.”

The Korean circuit possesses F1’s longest straight, all 0.74 miles of it, swiftly followed by one of the tightest corners in the sport.

Hamilton is looking forward to trying to overtake around the hairpin.

He said: “I think the DRS zone into Turn Three should definitely make for some exciting racing.

“Last year, the back straight didn’t really produce too much overtaking because it was so wet and there was so much spray by the time we reached that downhill braking area, that it wasn’t an easy place to pull off a pass.

“The weather’s supposed to be good next weekend, so I think we’ll really begin to see how this circuit works in the dry.”

Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, says Hamilton is eager to impress after a couple of disappointing races.

“Lewis is keen to convert his pace into a strong result,” said Whitmarsh.

“He showed at both Singapore and Suzuka that he had the pace to put the car on pole position, but was unlucky to lose out for a variety of different reasons.

“It seems like luck is against him at the moment, but, knowing Lewis, he will bounce back stronger than ever.”

"It seems like luck is against him at the moment, but, knowing Lewis, he will bounce back stronger than ever."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh

The Korean circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, the sport’s master designer, and bears similarities to the Turkish circuit, another of his creations.

Hamilton said: “You can tell that this track has been designed to be a good place for racing.

“Turns Four, Five and Six are a bit like the end of the lap at Istanbul Park, where you can attack on the inside and the outside and try and fight your way past.”

Hamilton’s in-form McLaren team-mate, Japanese GP winner Jenson Button, is confident of continuing his run of podiums.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix Result

1 Jenson Button (McLaren)

2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

4 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

6 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)

7 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

8 Sergio Perez (Sauber)

“Although last year’s Korean Grand Prix wasn’t one of my greatest performances – we just couldn’t get the car hooked up properly – I think that, given the current pace of the car and the form the team has at the moment, I’m going into this year’s race feeling much more positive.

“I’m feeling much more optimistic about this year’s race.”

Button added: “It’s an interesting circuit, there’s a good range of corners – Turn 11 is pretty unique, it’s a double-apex, heavily cambered left-hander, and the back-end of the track is quite interesting, too – there’s only really one line through that sequence of bends, and, if you get one wrong, you can risk losing out through the whole sequence.

“I’m quite confident that we should be able to hook the car up quite well through that sequence this year.”

The Korean race will be McLaren’s 700th grand prix and Whitmarsh wants to celebrate such a milestone with another victory.

He added: “For all of us at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, our ambition is undimmed: we’ll be aiming to win all the remaining races, starting with Korea next weekend.”


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