Lewis Hamilton hoping to break Formula One's parity at European Grand Prix


Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton is looking to capitalize on his triumph in Montreal and break the unprecedented run of seven different winners in seven races with another victory at this weekend's European Grand Prix.

Besides keeping his eye on the most wide-open field of challengers ever seen, Hamilton will have to fend off Fernando Alonso's improved Ferrari and two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, going for his third consecutive win at Valencia.

Hamilton leads Alonso overall by two points, and Red Bull's Vettel by three.

"The intensity of this year's championship means there's so little breathing space. We may have won in Canada, but there's an enormous amount of pressure to keep racking up good results at every grand prix," said Hamilton, who has finished runner-up three times in the four years the race has been held in the Mediterranean coastal city.

Even though this season is proving to be the most competitive in the series' history, Hamilton enters the event at the sinewy America's Cup harbor course in top form.

The English driver finally broke through with a commanding win two weeks ago at the Canadian GP when his McLaren team outfoxed Ferrari and Red Bull with a well-timed pit stop to give Hamilton the fresh set of tires he needed to overtake Vettel and Alonso and claim his first win of 2012.

Hamilton believes the season will be tightly contested to the end.

"I think that consistency, rather than individual strong results, will be the key to winning this world championship, so we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result," he said. "I'm only two points ahead of Fernando, which is nothing, particularly when there are a handful of really strong drivers all separated by a couple of points, so there's still everything to play for."

Pirelli's tricky tires have kept teams guessing for the best setup and pit-stop strategy and the outcome in doubt through the first seven races of the year.

The Valencia street circuit is notoriously tough for passing, so a strong qualifying run on Saturday and smooth teamwork in the pits should play a critical role to determine who celebrates on the podium come Sunday.

Last year, Vettel beat the second-place Alonso by more than 10 seconds after speeding away from pole. The German also recorded the fastest lap on the 5.4-kilometer (3.4-mile) course that features 25 turns.

Vettel said the circuit was both one of the fastest and most demanding.

"In Valencia, we drive an average of more than 200 kph, which means it's one of the fastest street circuits in Formula One," said Vettel. "Overtaking is possible, but only with some risk. The reason is that the air turbulence created by cars driving closely behind each other doesn't disappear as it normally would due to the high walls around the track. You lose grip and, in some extreme cases, you have to lift the throttle."

It appears that at least both man and machine won't have to deal with last year's blistering temperatures. Forecasts call for a reasonable 30 degrees (86 F) over the weekend as opposed to last year when temperatures reached a stifling 46 degrees (115 F).

Alonso, who has never won in front of the home Spanish crowd at Valencia, left the Canadian GP ruing the risky decision to try and maintain his lead on worn tires late in the race, only to see his pace falter and end up finishing fifth. But, after a slow start to the season, Ferrari has revamped its car and given the two-time world champion a vehicle it believes capable of winning on any track.

"It's all down to a huge amount of work, from a large number of people, with particular emphasis on aerodynamics, design and production," said Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis. "It's been intense over the past few months resulting in a big improvement in car performance."

Hamilton's teammate, Jenson Button, and Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, will also be looking for that elusive second win of the season, along with Pastor Maldonado of Williams and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. Rosberg's partner, Michael Schumacher, will be hard pressed not to improve this round. The record seven-time champion has failed to finish five races this year and has yet to place better than 10th.

Yet given the unpredictable nature of this campaign, an eighth different winner in the eighth race cannot be ruled out.

Either Lotus driver — 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and second-year pilot Romain Grosjean — or Sauber driver Sergio Perez could be due a first-place finish. Grosjean and Perez came in a respective second and third at Canada, masterfully managing their tires towards the end, while Raikkonen has made the podium twice this season, his first back after a two-year hiatus from F1.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot