Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Lewis Hamilton hopes for third time lucky in Belgium

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has a score to settle this weekend after being deprived last year of a Belgian Grand Prix victory he felt was his.

Hamilton stood on top of the podium and sprayed the race winner's champagne following a stunning, rain-hit end to the race at Spa.

The 24-year-old was involved in a thrilling duel with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen that resulted in the Finn sliding off the track and into a wall on the final lap.

But it was the conclusion to the penultimate lap that caused the controversy as Hamilton was adjudged by stewards long after the race to have cut the final chicane.

It resulted in Hamilton being handed a retrospective 25-second drive-through penalty, demoting him from first to third which was upheld after an appeal by McLaren.

It is a case of unfinished business for Hamilton, who yesterday claimed top spot at the end of practice for Sunday's return.

“I definitely want to get that win here,” said Hamilton, who was fourth in 2007.

“I felt like I won it last year, so it would feel good to get that win at one of my favourite circuits, one of the best in the world.

“There are certain races you look forward to in the year and this is one of them. It is a serious circuit, serious high speed.

“I have always said it is one of those circuits where you actually feel you are going somewhere as you go up through the woods as it is very long, but you do need a stable car.

“So I have to hope it is third time lucky. That's a good way for me to look at it, especially as we've come off two very good weekends.

“I always seem to go quite well here, even though this circuit is seriously high downforce.

“I don't think we have had the best, especially for the high-speed corners, but bit by bit we are making improvements and hopefully we can challenge for another podium.”

Hamilton insists he has learned from the incident that unfolded, even if on reflection he feels he did nothing wrong. In cutting the chicane he passed Raikkonen, and although he allowed the Finn by — as the rules stipulate — it was determined he had too much speed that allowed him to quickly regain the lead at the time.

“You learn that sometimes things happen,” added Hamilton.

“You learn that if you are in a similar situation you really have to wait, maybe another lap just to be certain, and that if you do overtake again then you don't get caught.”

Hamilton is in a different situation this year compared to last, an onlooker to the title race currently being played out rather than heavily involved as he has been the last two seasons.

With no McLarens or Ferraris involved in the championship chase, it is an unusual scenario for Formula One, with some observers feeling the fight this year lacks quality. Hamilton can appreciate the sentiment, although feels with Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in the fray, it is no less enthralling.

“I have grown up watching Formula One with guys like Kimi and Fernando (Alonso), top drivers at the front competing for world championships. That's what is exciting,” addressed Hamilton.

“It would be great to see them there, but I think this year has been exciting to see another group of drivers at the front. Now you are seeing a real mix, and I think it is turning out to be an exciting season.”

Hamilton is just delighted to be playing his part again, winning in Hungary and finishing second in Valencia, and looking the business again yesterday.

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