Hamilton aims to restore his F1 title hopes in Valencia

June 18, 2011 — Updated 2022 GMT (0422 HKT)

English driver Lewis Hamilton had a nightmare race in Canada as he failed to finish after several incidents on the street circuit.
English driver Lewis Hamilton had a nightmare race in Canada as he failed to finish after several incidents on the street circuit.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has finished second in Valencia for past three years
  • He likes the street circuit but has struggled recently at similar tracks in Monaco and Canada
  • Englishman trails world champion Sebastian Vettel by 76 points after seven races
  • His teammate Jenson Button is on a high after his final-lap victory in Montreal

(CNN) — Lewis Hamilton is hoping to make it third time lucky when the Formula One roadshow returns to Europe next weekend.

The McLaren driver has dropped to fourth in the standings, 76 points behind Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel, after his controversial performances in Monaco and Montreal.

F1 legend Niki Lauda called for him to be punished for his aggressive approach, while a sixth placing and a DNF dented Hamilton’s hopes of adding to his 2008 championship success after only seven of 19 scheduled races this season.

But the European Grand Prix is held at the Valencia track where he has finished second for the past three years, and the Englishman is hoping to improve his fortunes after disappointment on similar street circuits the last two times out.

F1 championship standings after Canadian GP

This will be our third street circuit in a row, so hopefully it’ll give me the chance to reverse the bad luck I’ve encountered in the previous two
–Lewis Hamilton

“Valencia will be a weekend of consolidation after two disappointing results in Monaco and Canada. Those two races were particularly frustrating for me because we showed we had the pace to win both of them, yet I only came away with eight points,” Hamilton told the F1 website.

“I’ve always gone well at Valencia, finishing second there in every race, and I really enjoy attacking the track. It’s a difficult circuit with no let-up, but that won’t deter me as I’m really keen to get back on track and get back in the points.

“This race will be our third street circuit in a row, so hopefully it’ll give me the chance to reverse the bad luck I’ve encountered in the previous two. We’ve arguably had the fastest race car in the last three races, and that’s really encouraging because I know that, when it’s put to best use, I should be able to finish at the front.”

Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button moved up to second place overall with a dramatic last-lap victory at the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend, but is still 60 points behind runner-up Vettel.

“I had a few days’ break immediately after the race, which was perfectly timed as it gave me the opportunity to take in all the positive memories of a crazy weekend, and to reflect on an incredible race,” the 2009 world champion said.

“I wouldn’t say that winning in Montreal has given me extra motivation, because I was already totally committed, but I think it will help to sharpen the focus and conviction of everyone in the team. We’ve proved we can challenge and beat Sebastian, and we know we can fight for this world championship.

“I’m looking forward to Valencia. I had a good race there last year (finishing third) and I think the track shares some of the characteristics of Montreal and Monaco, so I’m confident that we’ll be competitive again. The trick will be to find enough performance in the race to overcome any potential difficulties in qualifying. It’s a hard place to pass.”

Vettel won in Valencia last year and is hopeful that he can return to first place on the podium, where he has been five times so far this season — most recently at Monaco.

“The atmosphere around the harbor in Valencia is quite similar to Monaco, except that the paddock is bigger and the garages are larger,” the German said.

“It is a street circuit, but the average speed (200 km/hr) is extremely high, so it’s tricky. In general you need a lot of wing for the corners and less for the relatively long straights, which means you have to find a compromise.

“There are no run-off zones, so you can’t make any mistakes — a small slide and you end up in the wall. Overtaking is difficult and the only real possibility is in Turn 12.”

Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber is hoping to improve on last year, when he failed to finish.

“Valencia hasn’t been an incredible venue for me in the past but I’m looking to try and break the duck this year,” said the Australian, who is third in the drivers’ standings.

“I quite enjoy driving the last sector of the track, as it’s got a really good combination of corners which are challenging. It’s a circuit that’s yet to provide a phenomenal F1 race, but we’ve seen some special ones this year so hopefully this is an opportunity for Valencia to add its name to the list.”

Copyright. 2011. CNN.com. All Rights Reserved

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