Lewis Hamilton was uncharacteristically cautious on Thursday, ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on Sunday.

Turkish Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton insists Red Bull still hold upper hand over McLaren ahead of Sunday's race

Contender: Lewis Hamilton says McLaren still have work to do to get on a level footing with Red Bull


Sport, rather than politics, will briefly reclaim centre stage as McLaren and Red Bull renew their on-track rivalry at the scene of one of 2010’s most gripping races.

Hamilton, who won that bad-tempered contest after the two Red Bulldrivers collided on track, should be on a high from his brilliant victory in China last time out, nearly three weeks ago.

But the McLaren driver, normally so ebullient, described himself as “cautious” going into the first race of the so-called ‘European’ season, a misnomer in the sense that the Turkish track is situated on the Asian side of the Bosporus.

“Even though we won the last race, we are still slightly behind the Red Bulls in terms of pure pace,” Hamilton said. “You can come from the last race and be excited and confident going to the next race, but I don’t have particularly high hopes.

“I generally don’t like to expect too much so if it doesn’t work out it is a big come down from that. In the last race we didn’t win because we had the fastest car, but because we outdrove [Red Bull] and had the best strategy.

“Hopefully we will close the gap, hopefully our upgrade is good enough but we will see tomorrow. Especially with this break the other guys seem to be closing the gap gradually. Mercedes is closer, Ferrari is there or thereabouts.”

Whatever happens on track, though, with practice starting on Friday, it is off track where the real action is taking place. The announcement this week that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is in talks with Exor, an Italian investment firm with direct links to Ferrari, about a potential takeover of Formula One has put a rocket under the paddock.

Gradually the scope of what is being conceived — in terms of a fusion of business, technology and media — is beginning to dawn on people here and the buzz is palpable.

It was instructive to hear Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali highlight again where his team feel the sport can be improved, either under current owners CVC Capital Partners or new leadership.

“It can be CVC once more, but it must invest in F1 and develop,” Domenicali warned.

“And we must make sure our sport becomes interesting for young people. F1 must speak their language; use their technologies, internet, tablets, social forums. And remain comprehensible for the audience.

“F1 is interesting for Ferrari only if these points are taken into consideration. And we must avoid the rules to change too often.

“We need stability, on top of having grands prix in important countries for our sales, first of all in the USA.”

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 201

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