Hamilton eyeing Monaco victory


MONTE CARLO, May 13 – A frustrated but determined Lewis Hamilton is hoping his decision to use a specially-painted helmet will change his 2010 luck and bring him a spectacular victory at Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.The 2008 champion is winless so far this year despite a series of dazzling drives in difficult conditions, but believes he is due a change of fortune as he seeks his 13th career victory and a repeat of his triumph on the Mediterranean street circuit two years ago.

"I love the Monaco circuit, it’s the greatest track in Formula One," he said. "My victory here in 2008 is still probably my best win and one of the greatest moments in my career.

"It was an incredible day. It was wet and, looking at the week ahead, the weather also looks extremely unpredictable with heavy rain forecast for much of the week.

"But even if it doesn’t rain on the Sunday, the possibility of heavily disrupted practice and qualifying sessions means that we’ll probably go into the race with a chance of one of the most exciting and unpredictable Monaco races for many years.

"And on top of that, I’ll also be wearing a specially-painted helmet for the occasion. When you see it, you’ll know why I’ll be hoping for it to swing the odds in my favour."

Hamilton’s affinity with the special challenges of Monaco’s twisting circuit is certain to lift his commitment to beat his fellow Briton and McLaren team-mate, defending champion and series leader Jenson Button.

Button, however, has no intention of moving aside in a contest where the McLarens are expected to raise a challenge to the Red Bulls and Ferrari, with Mercedes also in the hunt.

"I won here last year and it was one of the highlights of my season and also my entire racing career," said Button, who has won two races already this year. "It’s a race that you grow up watching; you know the circuit, every corner, by heart before you’ve ever driven there, so it’s an extremely special place.

"It’s a race every young driver dreams of winning. Even though I’ve been racing there for many years, the sensation of speed you experience when you first drive a Formula One car out of the pits and up the hill is something that you can never fully anticipate. The acceleration is incredible and the walls are so, so close.

"To get the best out of the weekend, you’ve really got to build your speed up gradually — there are no benefits from attacking from lap one and risking a mistake.

"The track rubbers in incredibly quickly over the weekend, and it’s all about letting the car naturally find more speed through the corners as the conditions improve and your confidence increases."

While Red Bull remain the team with the fastest car, McLaren will be the team that has a natural confidence in Monte Carlo, having won the race a record 15 times including six years in succession from 1988.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh is optimistic, but realistic.

He said: "We are under no illusions that it will be a challenge to add to our tally — we have struggled this year in qualifying and the MP4-25 is not a car that we feel is best suited to slower, tighter tracks with short, slow-speed corners.

"But, having said that, I know full well that the team always seems to produce something special for this race and in Jenson and Lewis, we not only have two street circuit specialists, but also the last two Monaco Grand Prix winners, which is a very significant string to our bow."