Formula One: Hamilton targets British 1-2 at Silverstone
Lewis Hamilton is determined to realise his own version of fantasy Formula One at this weekend's British Grand Prix.
All the doom and gloom that emanated from Hamilton after the European Grand Prix 10 days ago has since, understandably, made way for the anticipation that comes with a race on home soil.
Silverstone officials have already announced a 120,000-plus sell-out crowd for Sunday, and the likelihood there could be a record attendance over the three days beyond 310,000.
That gives you some idea of the support behind Hamilton and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, despite the grave championship picture, as no-one appears capable of halting Sebastian Vettel's charge towards back-to-back titles.
After winning six of the eight grands prix so far to lead Button by 77 points and Hamilton by 89, the latter has his sights set on a rare British feat.
“The dream for us would be to have a one-two at Silverstone,” said Hamilton. “That would be the best weekend I could ever imagine in Formula One. I think it would be incredible.
“The dream would be to see what kind of effect that would have on everyone. I think the atmosphere would be unreal.
“When I got pole position in 2007, that was insane, and when I won in 2008, that was also insane.
“But just imagine having a British one-two in a British team, that would be a weekend that would go down in history.
“So our goal, as difficult as it may be, that's what we're pushing for.”
To underline just how difficult, in 61 previous British GPs there have only ever been six British one-twos — and none with the same British team.
In 1962, 1964 and 1965 when Jim Clark won in a Lotus, John Surtees was runner-up in a Lola in the first of those years, whilst Graham Hill was second driving a BRM in the latter two.
That is as close as Britain has come to the feat Hamilton is hoping for, seemingly made more improbable by Button's bitter frustration at never finishing on the podium at Silverstone in 11 attempts.
It is a fact that troubles the 31-year-old as he goes into the 198th race of his F1 career.
“Because of the support we get in the UK, this grand prix is so special to any British driver,” said Button. “Last year the whole paddock, in the grandstands, people watching on banks, it was just full of rocket red caps. Seeing the support was unbelievable.
“So yeah, I'd love to have a good result in front of the home crowd.
“Winning would be out of this world, but even being on the podium would be special.”
Despite those home hopes, lurking in the background is the fact neither driver could be at the team next year such is the speculation surrounding their futures.
Button is likely to stay as McLaren have an option on him for next season, and it is inconceivable that it will not be taken up.
As for Hamilton, it has been reported he has a get-out clause in his contract that could see him leave at the end of the year.
However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has dismissed talk of Hamilton partnering Vettel, whilst it is unimaginable the 26-year-old will ever be alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
Beyond that, there are no other cars as competitive as the McLaren, seeming to suggest that Hamilton will be with the team in 2012.