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Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Thursday, 21 October 2010 10:22 UK

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton 'excited' by F1 title race

Korean Grand Prix, Yeongam, 22-24 October
Qualifying: 0500-0730 on BBC TV, Red Button, online and 5 live sports extra
Race: 0600-0915 on BBC One, Red Button, online and Radio 5 live

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton 'feeling fantastic'

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Korea

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is refusing to rule himself out of contention for the Formula 1 title with three races to go.

Hamilton clinched the 2008 championship at the final race in Brazil but is fourth in the 2010 standings, 28 points behind Red Bull's leader Mark Webber.

"I feel very positive," Hamilton, 25, told BBC Sport ahead of the inaugural Korean Grand Prix. "I'm just very composed, excited and optimistic.

"Hopefully, we'll have more of a chance against the Red Bulls and Ferraris."

All five title contenders - Webber, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and his McLaren team-mate, defending champion Jenson Button - were rounded up for an uncomfortably cagey media conference in South Korea.

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The quintet are all still mathematically in title contention with 31 points separating leader Webber from fifth-placed Button and 75 points up for grabs.

"There are a lot of points left," said Hamilton, who finished fifth last time out in Japan despite a gearbox problem.

"The goal is to win all the races this season but for the last three we will have a final big push and pull out all the stops.

"We were very competitive in the last race and think we had a good shot at challenging for a win. Hopefully, with our reliability we'll have a real fight for the win.

"I feel fantastic after a couple of days at home and I'm very positive."

McLaren, who will again run their new rear wing and a modified front wing this weekend, have conceded their drivers need to finish in front of Webber to keep their championship challenges alive.

TITLE BATTLE OVER LAST FOUR RACES
BBC graphic
How all five drivers have fared over the past four F1 races

If Webber wins in Korea, for instance, then Hamilton has to finish eighth and Button cannot be lower than sixth.

Korea's new Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is as yet untested but the first section of the track, with two long straights, should suit McLaren while the sector second's combination of corners should favour Red Bull.

"I'm looking forward to driving this circuit," Button told BBC Sport. "We've got some long straights and heavy braking in the first sector which is good for us and the third sector we should be strong as well.

"I'm fifth and 31 points behind the leader so it's not going to be easy from this far back.

"But as we've seen this season so much has happened; reliability issues, accidents and very different finishes to what we expected.

"We have to really beat the Red Bulls here - that has to be our aim.

"If you look at the last two races the Ferraris and the Red Bulls had the legs on us a little bit but hopefully the next three will be a little bit closer and that'll make it an exciting fight until the end of the season."

Webber has led the championship since September's Italian Grand Prix and the Australian is staying focused on the task in hand.

Red Bull dominated the last race in Suzuka as Vettel led home a one-two but Webber is not taking anything for granted at Korea's untested track.

"There are three to go and this one is just another race," Webber reflected. "I'm preparing no differently, we'll get the best out of this weekend and see what's after that.

Webber's circuit guide to the Korean GP

"It's a new venue and whether we get another one-two, we need to work incredibly hard to achieve that.

"We know that we've got some tough opposition. We've had a lot of different winners and we know that Lewis, Fernando, Jenson and both Red Bull drivers are both capable of winning grands prix.

"I need to do the best I can and get the team doing the same - if we can collectively get the maximum out of what we have it should be a good weekend for us."

Vettel put himself back into contention with his third win of the season in Japan and the 2009 championship runner-up from Germany was obviously delighted with his return to form.

"The last race was good for me and I felt comfortable in the car," Vettel, 23, told BBC Sport.

"If there is momentum on my side I hope that I know the reason. I was getting back into the rhythm - not that I really lost it during the season but there were some things you probably didn't see from outside.

"The most important things we learned last year was that even in a situation where you don't have a possibility to win, by not trying to force it we collected a lot of points.

"We are now in the position we're in at the moment, so that's a good sign."

It's not only about winning it is about consistency and we need to keep working like that

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari's Alonso took the final podium place in Japan to move into second in the championship - level on points with Vettel - and to within 14 points of Webber.

Alonso is poised to take advantage again as he chases his third world title.

"All the tracks so far have been Red Bull tracks and of the remaining three we all have the impression that Red Bull will have the fastest car for every race," the 29-year-old Spaniard stated.

"But on Sunday for different reasons they don't always win the race so we need to take every opportunity they give us.

"From Germany onwards, we scored more points than anybody. It's not only about winning it is about consistency and we need to keep working like that."



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see also
Last-minute preparations
21 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Button optimistic about upgrades
21 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
McLaren pair 'must beat Webber'
20 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Massa will help Alonso title push
19 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Webber eyes title boost in Korea
16 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton retains hope over title
13 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
I must win to take title - Webber
10 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Title a tough task now - Hamilton
10 Oct 10 |  Formula 1


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