F1: 2011 Monaco Grand Prix thoughts of Hamilton
LEWIS Hamilton goes in first practice for the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix tomorrow (Thursday) morning looking to overtake rivals Red Bull.
The 26-year-old Formula 1 driver from Herts takes the wheel again at 9am BST around the sport’s most glamorous track.
Hamilton hounded reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel to the line in last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
And the tight and twisty street circuit of Monaco with its slow speed corners should present the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team with another great opportunity to challenge Red Bull’s F1 supremacy.
Lewis said: “After such a strong showing in Spain, I’m really looking forward to Monaco this year because I think we’ll see a different race from previous years.
"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!"
“I think a combination of DRS, KERS Hybrid and the tyres will really make the racing come alive, and I’d love to see some overtaking action and some hard racing this year.”
On overtaking opportunities in the Principality, Hamilton added: “I think the DRS zone at Monaco is only around 300 metres, so it’s pretty short, and not really long enough to enable us to really get enough of a launch on the car ahead.
“I think the aerodynamics will only really start working properly once we’ve reached the braking zone for Ste Devote, so I don’t think we’ll see too many DRS-assisted overtaking moves next weekend.
“However, I think the tyres will probably give us the greatest scope for excitement and the best chance of passing.
“While I don’t think the Super-Soft and Soft compounds will be as critical around Monaco as they were at a place like Turkey, I still think the drop-off we encounter as the tyres go off should create opportunities for overtaking.
“And I don’t think the marbles will be as bad as people fear, because they tend to occur at the exits of high-speed corners, and Monaco is generally quite a low-speed track, so I don’t think we’ll see the build-up that we saw at somewhere like Turkey’s Turn Eight, for example.”
Hamilton won in the city state on the French Riviera in 2008 and loves the most historic race on the calendar.
He said: “Monaco, it’s a race I remember watching when I was a kid and it’s a place that really showcases Formula 1 at its very best: racing flat-out around the toughest and greatest circuit in the world.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “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.
“Additionally, I don’t think the deployment of driver-operated tools like the DRS and KERS Hybrid will affect the concentration of our drivers.
“One of the many strengths of having two strong drivers is that they are both gifted enough to be able to deal with those added complexities within the cockpit without it affecting their performance.”
Monaco GP practice takes place on Thursday, with qualifying at 1pm on Saturday.