Hamilton looking for opening win
PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:25 26 October 2009
WITH the Formula One season opener in Australia next Sunday, Herts race ace Lewis Hamilton is aiming not just to finish on the podium this time – but to win the grand prix. Tewin hero Hamilton, entering only his second F1 campaign, finished third in Melbo
WITH the Formula One season opener in Australia next Sunday, Herts race ace Lewis Hamilton is aiming not just to finish on the podium this time - but to win the grand prix.
Tewin hero Hamilton, entering only his second F1 campaign, finished third in Melbourne last year behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen and then team-mate Fernando Alonso.
It was a spectacular start to his McLaren career, and gave critics and pundits alike a glimpse of what was to come.
Hamilton said: "The first corner has to be one of the best memories for sure. I will never forget that moment.
"It was my first race and all the expectation was riding on my shoulders, but I just focused on my targets and got a great result."
He now wants to improve on that with a victory at the Albert Park circuit.
The 23-year-old is confident in his McLaren car and believes a fast start is essential in order to have a chance of winning the race.
Hamilton said: "The car feels stronger than last year.
"I am going there with the aim of winning the race and we will all work hard to try and achieve that."
The Australian Grand Prix moved to the Albert Park arena in 1996 from Adelaide, with the McLaren team having won the event more than any other constructor, winning on eight occasions.
A first place in Melbourne would likely see a flurry of bets set down on Hamilton to win the overall championship, yet as ever, the Hertfordshire speedster remains calm.
He said: "I generally don't ever demand or have expectations of myself or anyone else. I am more focused on targets.
"The targets for the team and for myself are to win as many races as possible, improve on my performance from last year and finish all the races."
Hamilton is this year partnered at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with Heikki Kovalainen.
The Finnish driver finished 10th in Melbourne last year and is hoping to improve this time around.
He said: "I am looking forward to my first race with the team.
"I think I have prepared well and hope I can have a better start to the season than last year."
Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren Group's chief operating officer, is adamant that the new model MP4-23 car is more than ready for the new season, and is confident going into the campaign.
He said: "Within the team there is fantastic atmosphere at the moment, particularly between our drivers.
"They are working well together, they like each other, and you can see how much they genuinely respect each other."
With just days to go until the green lights signal the start of the 2008 F1 season, British fans will be holding their breath that the likeable yet focused Hamilton can secure the championship this time around.
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