Hamilton aiming for third straight win

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is eager to make it third time lucky in Valencia as he chases a hat-trick of wins for the first time in his Formula One career.

After back-to-back victories in Turkey and Canada over the past few weeks, Hamilton heads into this weekend's European Grand Prix as the fifth different leader of this year's championship.

Remarkably, it is the first time Hamilton has topped the standings since the end of 2008 when he was crowned champion, the Briton leading the way by just three points from team-mate Jenson Button.

Now the 25-year-old has the opportunity to stretch his advantage on a circuit where McLaren are again expected to hold a slight edge over main rivals Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.

And after finishing second in each of the two races that have been held around the port track, Hamilton is determined to go one better on Sunday.

"I feel like I have some unfinished business," said Hamilton, who finished 5.6 seconds behind Felipe Massa in 2008 and 2.3secs behind Rubens Barrichello last year.

"It's not a circuit where we've seen too much passing in the past, but I think this year could be different.

"The grid is so tight, with battles all through the field as we saw in Montreal last week, so we could have a close and exciting race this weekend."

Hamilton knows that while another victory would be welcome, it is not the be all and end all as far as the championship is concerned as reliability and consistency will be paramount from now on.

"Formula One is so tough and so competitive at the moment that you can't take anything for granted," added Hamilton. "While I might be on top right now, I know I'll need to fight for every lap of the next 11 races to remain up there.

"I'm the fifth leader of the championship so far this year, so it's pretty clear it's not so easy staying on top.

"This championship is going to be as much about playing the long game - minimising mistakes, scoring points at every race - as it is about success at individual races.

"I think that's the first time you can probably say that about a Formula One championship.

"Whether it's the changes to the points system, or just the fact there are maybe as many as 10 drivers out there with the machinery capable of winning races, you can't afford to just take the points.

"You've got to be on the limit all the time and I love that, because that's how I love to race."