F1 2011 Monaco Grand Prix: Monte Carlo win or bust for McLaren

Lewis Hamilton driving around Monte Carlo during the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix weekend [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

Lewis Hamilton driving around Monte Carlo during the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix weekend [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

HOCH ZWEI

LEWIS Hamilton's Formula 1 boss is looking for McLaren to win next weekend's 2011 Monaco Grand Prix around the famous streets of Monte Carlo.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers head to the Principality of Monaco buoyed by events in Spain on Sunday.

Herts-born Hamilton pushed reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel all the way around the Circuit de Catalunya, crossing the line just six-tenths of a second behind Red Bull’s race winner.

The 26-year-old McLaren driver finished runner-up, with team-mate Jenson Button taking the final step on the Spanish GP podium.

Despite the British team’s encouraging performance in Barcelona, Hamilton is still 41 points behind Vettel in the race for the drivers’ title after just five grands prix.

"We’ve won the race on 15 occasions which is more than any other team – and we go into next weekend aiming to make it 16!"

McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh ahead of the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix

Red Bull also dominate the constructors’ championship standings.

McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh is now looking for one of his drivers to convert the team’s Spanish podiums into victories – starting around the famous street circuit on the Mediterranean coast on Sunday.

Speaking from the paddock after yesterday’s race in Spain, Whitmarsh said: “We scored 33 world championship points today, which is another decent haul.

“But we want to win and we intend to win, and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing our damnedest to do on the famously challenging streets of Monte Carlo in just a few days’ time.”

Hamilton and Button have both taken the Monaco chequered flag, in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and Whitmarsh hopes to add to the team’s trophy haul around the tight and twisty barrier-lined circuit on Sunday.

“Both our drivers have won the Monaco Grand Prix, and McLaren has an enviable record around the streets of the Principality,” said Whitmarsh.

“We’ve won the race on 15 occasions which is more than any other team – and we go into next weekend aiming to make it 16!

“Our Barcelona race pace, in particular our sector three times, looked very respectable indeed last weekend – and hopefully that will give us a good idea of what to expect at Monaco, because it’s a slow, stop-start section of the track.

"In race trim, I actually think we were quicker than the Red Bulls, except through the really high-speed stuff."

Lewis Hamilton after the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix

“I think one of the strengths of the MP4-26 is its low-speed grip and traction, so I think we should be in good shape from the start of the weekend.”

With the dust barely settled on his thrilling duel with Vettel at the front of the pack in Barcelona, Tewin F1 hero Hamilton has his eyes firmly fixed on next weekend’s race – the glittering jewel in F1’s crown.

“I’m already looking forward to Monaco,” said Hamilton.

“It’s a circuit where high-speed downforce is less critical and where the driver can make a difference, so it should be a strong track for us.”

Unlike most grands prix, practice for the Monaco race takes place on the Thursday, a day earlier than normal, with qualifying on Saturday from 1pm.

The 2011 Monaco Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday.

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