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Hamilton seeks to extend F1 lead in new Euro GP

Hamilton seeks to extend F1 lead in new Euro GP

Lewis Hamilton is excited by the prospect of racing on Formula One's newest track this weekend as he seeks to extend his slim championship lead at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
The street-circuit race around the port area of the eastern Spanish city marks the return of Formula One after a three-week summer break following the Hungarian Grand Prix, where a shredded tire reduced Hamilton to a fifth-place finish.
That left the McLaren-Mercedes driver on 62 points in the drivers' championship, five ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who was third in Budapest, and eight in front of Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
"I'm wary of making predictions _ the race in Hungary showed just how unpredictable Formula 1 can be," Hamilton said. "Clearly, though, I am still in a good position to challenge for the world championship and that remains my aim."
Hamilton had some consolation in Budapest; his teammate Heikki Kovalainen won the race for his first F1 victory.
"I'm looking forward to getting into the cockpit on Friday morning. It looks like being an amazing track," Hamilton said.
Ferrari, with five race wins, tops the constructors' standings with 111 points. McLaren, which has also won five, including the past three, has 100 points. BMW Sauber has one race win and 90 points.
Sunday's race will be held over a new circuit, measuring 5.44 kilometers (3.38 miles), with plenty of overtaking room promising a fast and competitive race.
The race is the first of two street circuit premieres this season. The second will be Singapore's night race in September.
The newness of the course means there's been no opportunity for testing it and drivers are likely too be itching to take the traditional circuit walk-around Thursday and first practice sessions Friday.
"It looks pretty fast, to be honest," said Kovalainen. "You get used to street circuits being quite slow, with lots of slow- to medium-speed corners and very short straights, but this is almost the opposite.
"There are a lot of fast kinks and esses, a couple of decent straights and lots of high-speed stuff."
The Spanish venue will mark the fifth home for the European Grand Prix, which has been held at Brands Hatch, the Nurburgring, Donington Park and Jerez since its inception in 1983.
BMW Sauber's pair, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, who lie fourth and fifth in the drivers' standings respectively, are chasing podium positions to arrest a decline in the team's competitiveness over recent grands prix. Kubica, who won the Canadian GP in June, has 49 points while Heidfield has 41.
"I'm always pleased when a new race track turns up in the calendar, and I'm particularly keen to experience Valencia," Heidfield said. "It will be an authentic street circuit in the sense that it runs through the town center."
The race will see two-time world champion Fernando Alonso on home territory for a second time this season following the Spanish GP.
"It's always a special feeling to race in front of my countrymen and I'm really looking forward to it," said the Renault driver.
"In Barcelona, we were having a strong race when I had to retire, but I hope this time I can get a good result as the circuit will be new for all the drivers."
Toyota has been a team on the rise in recent races, with a fourth in Germany for Jarno Trulli and a runner-up spot for Timo Glock in Hungary.
"A new circuit means that there is a new challenge: something new to discover, new corners, new set-up, a new way of driving, because every race is a different story," Trulli said.


Updated : 2021-05-12 22:59 GMT+08:00