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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Hamilton plays down Monaco hopes
Lewis Hamilton
There is nowhere like Monaco for getting the adrenaline going

Lewis Hamilton (above)
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton says he is "realistic" about his chances of winning the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Englishman has finished on the podium in all four of his Grands Prix so far and has never lost at Monaco in three races in the junior categories.

"I am going to the race again this year with the intention of fighting for the win," the McLaren star said.

"However, we do have to keep being realistic - this will be my fifth race in F1 and I am still developing."

Hamilton won the GP2 race in the Mediterranean Principality last year to add to his two Formula Three victories from the year before.

And after putting team-mate and world champion Fernando Alonso in the shade in the last two races, he has been tipped to win on the demanding street track on his F1 debut there.

606: DEBATE

"I am really looking forward to Monaco - I have always run well there," the 22-year-old said.

"It is one of the tracks I have always dreamed of racing at in F1, particularly having competed there for the past two seasons in the F3 Euroseries and GP2.

"For me it is the best circuit of the year. There is nowhere like it for getting the adrenaline going.

The Spaniard said: "Monaco is another of those races that, at the start of the year, you mark as one that you really want to win.

"Because the track is so tight and there are no run-off areas, you have to be incredibly precise, there is no room for error and as a driver that makes it all the more exciting."

Fernando Alonso
I have not had the results I have wanted at the previous two races

Fernando Alonso (above)
Alonso, who won at Monaco for Renault last year, is two points behind Hamilton in the world championship.

Alonso has been struggling to adapt to the Bridgestone tyres all the teams are using this year following the withdrawal of rival Michelin brand, which he had used since 2003

"I took the victory at the Grand Prix last year and, although it was an emotional weekend, it was an amazing feeling, one that I will race hard to try and repeat again this season.

"I have not had the results I have wanted at the previous two races but I have kept scoring good points and we have continued to develop the performance of the car.

"At Monaco you have to really keep your concentration at all times and push to the limit.

"It is very easy for things to go wrong at this track because it is very narrow and the barriers are very close, and this is why you have to stay focused.

"Because of the barriers and the need to be very accurate, you do have to use a slightly different driving style here to perform well over the weekend. You tend to be less aggressive in the braking zones.

"You also need to set the car up with a responsive front, so that you can be on the throttle as early as possible in the middle section of the corner without waiting for the car to turn, it is ways like this that you can find the milliseconds that you need at Monaco."

The McLaren drivers' main rivals for victory will be Ferrari pair Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who between them have won three of the season's four races.

Brazilian Massa heads to Monaco on the back of two consecutive wins, and is just a point behind Alonso in third place.

Follow live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix on BBC Radio Five Live and this website. Qualifying is at 1300 BST on Saturday, with the race at the same time on Sunday.

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