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Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Thursday, 7 October 2010 09:00 UK

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton targets Formula 1 title charge

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton won't change driving style (UK only)

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton says he is desperate to reignite his bid for the 2010 Formula 1 drivers' championship in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

The McLaren driver is one of five men in contention for the title but trails leader Mark Webber by 20 points after crashing out of the last two races.

"I'm doing as much as I can to try and recover," said 25-year-old Hamilton.

"My plan is not to see how hard my team works and then let them down - and let my family, my friends, or myself down."

After failing to finish the Hungarian Grand Prix because of a gearbox problem, Hamilton moved top of the standings with victory at the Belgian Grand Prix on 29 August - but has since experienced a downturn in fortunes.


He was forced out of the Italian Grand Prix after an opening-lap collision with Ferrari's Felipe Massa as he attempted to pass the Brazilian.

Disaster struck again at the Singapore Grand Prix as another overtaking move went wrong, this time Hamilton exiting the race after a coming together with the Red Bull of Australian Webber on lap 36.

The Englishman now finds himself third in the championship on 182 points, with Webber top on 202 points and an in-form Fernando Alonso of Ferrari second on 191.

Hamilton is one point ahead of Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, while his McLaren team-mate and defending champion Jenson Button is four points further back on 177.

With four races remaining and 25 points for a win, all five drivers remain in the hunt and Hamilton is determined to right the wrongs of Monza and Marina Bay.

"At the time [after crashing out in Singapore] I'd had quite a few tough races - the failure in Hungary, a win in Belgium and two DNFs [did not finishes] - so it was very easy to let your emotions mixed up with your thought process," added the 2008 world champion.

"There are still four races to go and looking back at the history of the sport - particularly this season and seeing how close it still is after many people made mistakes in certain situations - it clearly shows that it isn't impossible for me.

McLaren's Jenson Button

Button promises quicker McLaren (UK only)

"I'm still optimistic. I have a tough job ahead of me but I feel I have as good an opportunity as anyone. I just have to work as hard as I can to make sure I can finish the races."

When asked if he would change his approach after overtaking manoeuvres cost him dear in the last two races, Hamilton sounded reluctant.

"I'm clearly looking at all the races I've done and looking at how my approach has been and trying to evaluate and try and take a step back and see if there's something I have to improve on," he stated.

"It's difficult to pinpoint one particular part, of course I could go and drive around and not overtake anyone and stay in position, that's easy enough but that's not me and that definitely won't be happening.

"I don't think this race will be particularly more crucial than the rest of the races - they are all very important to score maximum points.

"Clearly if I had finished the three races that I missed I'd be a much more stronger position but I can't go back again.

"All I can do is to try and recover and to try and apply myself in the most productive way towards my team and the races."

Button, who won his first world title with the Brawn team last season, also has a clear idea of what he needs to do to keep his title defence alive.

We're in a good position and I don't think Red Bull will have it all their own way

Jenson Button

"The big gap difference is to Mark [Webber]," said Button, who finished fourth last time out in Singapore to stay within 25 points of the Australian championship leader.

"I need to be on the podium and to finish in front of Mark, that's the main aim."

McLaren have arrived in Suzuka with a package of aerodynamic upgrades that included modified front and rear wings.

Button is hopeful that will help them close the gap on Red Bull, who are expected to thrive on the fast and flowing figure-of-eight circuit, and Ferrari, winners of the last two races in Monza and Singapore.

"We come here knowing that the Red Bulls are quick on this type of circuit and Ferrari have been very strong in the last two races," added Button.

"We definitely have an upgrade which will make the difference. The engine is important here and we have the strongest out there.

"I've driven the car in the simulator and personally feel that I've improved the car from Singapore.

"We're in a good position and I don't think Red Bull will have it all their own way."

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see also
McLaren duo 'still in title hunt'
06 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Title 'completely open' - Button
01 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
I will not alter style - Hamilton
29 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Title rivals call for cool heads
28 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Title could go to wire - Horner
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
In-form Alonso lays down gauntlet
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Flawless Alonso wins in Singapore
26 Sep 10 |  Formula 1

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Daily Express Lewis Hamilton's run of bad luck dents title hopes - 55 mins ago
Pretoria NewsVettel, Webber streets ahead in early practice - 1 hr ago
Gulf Times Vettel fastest in Japan GP - 2 hrs ago
Formula 1 09 Oct 2010 - 3 hrs ago
UK Net Guide Vettel tops both practice sessions at Suzuka - 4 hrs ago
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