| Lewis Hamilton
The Lewis Hamilton show resumes in Barcelona next week with the boy wonder talking world titles. He has strong support. Three-time champion Niki Lauda believes Hamilton is a serious contender to take the drivers’ championship in his rookie year.
“As unbelievable as it sounds, at the moment I can see Hamilton heading the rankings,” Lauda said. “Because of his young and clean experience and he is as fast as Alonso.”
When Formula One statesmen as grand as Lauda nail their colours to the Hamilton mast one has to take the possibility seriously.
The Briton, 22, has already set a record for debutants, becoming the first to finish his opening three races on the podium — a start, good enough to place him alongside McLaren advertisement team-mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the helm on 22 points.
The challenge stiffens in Spain, where support for Alonso is absolute. Not that Hamilton is likely to defer. The plan is to continue making life uncomfortable for the established names.
“I never go [to a race] with expectations, I go with a target,” Hamilton said. “That is to be at the front, and the ultimate aim to win, which is the mentality I have always gone racing with. You have to have the belief that you can succeed in order to ensure you have the commitment. That is true for anything in any walk of life.”
So, Lewis, is a win in Barcelona on the cards' “Yes. I don’t want that to come across as a cocky answer, it is just my feeling.” Lauda’s, too.
“I did not expect a rookie to be so advanced and strong-minded as he is. If his learning curve continues to go upwards, we can expect even more from him. If the team is able to improve its performance and create an advantage over Ferrari, this year’s championship will be a duel between him and Alonso.”
Hamilton will have at his disposal a car with a new front wing. McLaren have added an element that connects to the end plates and bridges the nose.
The gain in speed, they claim, will be required if Ferrari’s testing performance is any guide. Raikkonen and Felipe Massa topped the time sheets on the opening two days before the weather closed in.