Hamilton takes pole to revive his title chances



As the F1 season approaches its summer break after a rapid-fire succession of three races in the last four weeks, the demeanour of the leading championship contenders is illuminating.

Lewis Hamilton, currently fourth, has had an interesting time since an awful British GP, with a number of stories about him partying with multiple women and a resultant fresh spat with his girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger. Since an equally unfruitful German GP last week he's been hanging out with filming friends in Cannes, then with the boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Vladimir Klitschko at the V & A sporting dinner last Wednesday. And it seems that he has become a serial tweeter in this latest spell of adversity.

"This was me & my man Desmond Tutu. Just realised I didn't tweet it before," he advised in one tweet.

"Shout out to my boy chris breezy @chrisbrown, incredible talent! Listen to his music before races... helps me get in the zone," said another, while others advised a fan: "What is important, is you do what suits you & not what others expect," and "People are always scared of whats [sic] different, afraid of change. We are always growing & changing."

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel, third, has been getting uncharacteristically tetchy and semantic. "I have a mouth and you have ears," he told reporters on Thursday while denying that he'd called Hamilton stupid for trying to unlap himself on the leaders in Germany. Yet what he actually said was: "That was not nice of him. I don't see the point why he's trying to race us. If he wants to go fast he can drop back, find a gap and go fast there. But it's a bit stupid to disturb the leaders." Herr splitting?

Vettel lost second place in Germany for illegally overtaking Jenson Button, was told that his team have to modify their engine maps here and has struggled all weekend with the handling, and now it has emerged that in Canada the FIA found a button within the Red Bull's cockpit that enabled the drivers to make changes to the ride height in a way that contravened the regulations laid down by the FIA.

The team denied using the facility between qualifying and the race, which would be illegal, but the endless battles over their interpretation of the rules are having an adverse effect.

Mark Webber, second overall to Alonso, won the British GP but was an also-ran in Germany and will start only 11th on the grid today. The amiable Aussie has been tight-lipped this weekend.

The calmest contender is the man who started the season in the worst car: Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. Holding a 34-point lead going into this race, the Spaniard has never driven better and has worked tirelessly on and off track to help Ferrari to massage their car into the only three-time winner.

But right now he's only sixth on the grid, and Hamilton is on pole; McLaren's 150th, his 22nd. Hamilton desperately needs a victory here, and nothing would signal better his intention to make sure that with nine races left the fight for the championship crown is a long way from over.

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