F1: Title race hots up for Hamilton and Webber

LEWIS Hamilton hopes to follow his Belgian Grand Prix victory with success in the Italian GP at Monza next weekend.

The 25-year-old Formula 1 driver from Herts won around Spa’s famous track in the rain on Sunday.

That victory saw the McLaren Mercedes ace regain pole position in the race for the F1 drivers’ championship – three points ahead of Red Bull rival Mark Webber.

The two championship pacesetters go head-to-head again on Sunday, September 12 around the historic Monza circuit in the 2010 Italian Grand Prix.

Ahead of the Italian race in Ferrari’s backyard, the rallying cry from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh was simply: “Monza? Bring it on!”

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Like Spa last weekend, Monza should suit McLaren’s 2010 spec MP4-25 – giving Hamilton the perfect opportunity to cement his position at the top of the championship.

Webber and Hamilton were the only two serious title contenders to score points in Belgium, but the McLaren man doesn’t think it is a two-horse race for the world crown just yet.

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He said: “You’ve seen in the last few races how quickly things can change. We still have a long way to go, so there are still many points to be grabbed by any of us drivers who are fighting for the championship.

“Clearly for me, my closest rival in the championship is Mark [Webber] in terms of points, but I still think the championship is open, but obviously we want to make sure that that’s not the case after another few races.”

Hamilton is currently 35 points ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the reigning F1 world champion, but doesn’t think he will get any favouritism over the closing races of the season.

The Tewin racer said: “I get the same treatment as Jenson and vice versa and that enables us both to score maximum points and so I don’t feel there should be any preferential treatment.

“Obviously the team do the best they can possibly do, to the maximum for each of us. There’s no more they could do.”

However, after being shunted off the track by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in Belgium, a rueful Button said: “It’s a massive blow to my world championship hopes.

“All I can do now is look forward to Monza. I love that track, and I’ll be doing my best to score a lot of points there.”

Hamilton hasn’t won at Monza. He really needs to reverse that if he is to stand any chance of claiming his second world title, as Red Bull are likely to dominate the final five fly-away races.

But Webber still sees 2008 world champion Hamilton as his biggest threat. The British-based Aussie said: “I think if you beat Lewis in the championship you are doing very well.”

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