Hamilton can look forward to Monaco say McLaren

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton can look forward to next week's Monaco Grand Prix despite McLaren's lack of pace in Spain on Sunday, according to team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Hamilton won in Monaco last year on his way to becoming Formula One's youngest champion but an uncompetitive car has left the 24-year-old Briton with just nine points from the first five races.

He battled from last place after the first lap to ninth at the chequered flag at the Circuit de Catalunya in a race dominated by compatriot Jenson Button and his Brawn GP team.

Finnish team mate Heikki Kovalainen, who crashed heavily at the circuit in 2008, slowed and retired early on with a gearbox problem.

Whitmarsh had warned before the race that it promised to be McLaren's worst showing of the season and he stuck to that afterwards.

"I said that and I truly believe and hope it is the case," he told reporters.

"After we were nearly on the podium in Bahrain, we knew where we were. This was going to be a very difficult weekend.

"I think there are positives to take out of it," he added. "We have come a long way from where we were eight weeks ago and the other positive is look at Lewis, what a fighter and what a great drive from him.

"He's always been in a winning car, he's not at the moment and he's doing a fantastic job," said Whitmarsh.

"Monaco is going to be different and we are going to be strong. We still have loads of work, it's not going to be magic, but we are definitely going to be stronger there and we are going to keep pushing this car to make it better."

Whitmarsh said it was just a question of grinding away, making constant improvements to a car that has already closed the gap between McLaren and Brawn considerably since pre-season testing in Barcelona.

"Monaco is a circuit that will suit us and we've got great drivers," he said. "Lewis is mega there."

Hamilton triumphed in 2008, despite Ferrari locking out the front row of the grid, and was second in his 2007 debut season behind then team mate Fernando Alonso in a race that only highlighted his talent and ambition.