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By Alan Davies, Formula One correspondent
Thursday, April 5, 2012
FORMULA 1 racer Lewis Hamilton is looking to complete a hat-trick of podium finishes this season in next weekend’s 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
* Wins 3 (2008, 2010, 2011)
* Poles 2 (2007, 2008)
* Fastest laps 3 (2005, 2008, 2010)
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire finished third in the season’s opening two races in Australia and Malaysia.
And Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, is hoping to secure more valuable points around the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday, March 15.
Although disappointed at failing to turn two pole positions into victories in Melbourne and Sepang, Hamilton sees consistency being the key to success this season and hopes to challenge for serious points again in China.
Hamilton said: “I won’t deny that I’m disappointed to have had two pole positions and not to have been able to convert either of them into victories, but I prefer to think of it that luck just hasn’t been on my side, and that it will swing my way sooner or later.
"I think the first two races have shown that, as a team, we’re definitely in positions to win."
“I also think last year taught me the value of consistency: it’s no use chasing a great result if you can’t back it up with another strong finish the following week.
“So maybe I’m just playing myself in gently: after all, in 2007, I didn’t win a race until the sixth round, and I was in the hunt for the title all through the year.
“I still don’t think the pecking order has settled down yet, so it’s important to get some good results in the bag while we can.”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has a strong record in the Chinese Grand Prix.
The team has won the race three times and finished on the podium on seven further occasions.
Hamilton, on a three-stop strategy, took the chequered flag in Shanghai last year after audaciously overtaking Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel in the closing four laps on a fresh set of tyres.
On repeating that victory, Hamilton answered: “I’m looking at the championship as a whole – although, of course, I’d love to win every race, it’s more important to be in a good points-scoring position at every race.
“I think the first two races have shown that, as a team, we’re definitely in positions to win.”
* Race distance: 56 Laps (189.568 miles/305.066km)
* Start time: 15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 3.387 miles/5.451km
* 2011 winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari 2004)
Hamilton added: “I think Malaysia was a good example of how to pick up points when you’re looking at the championship – and that was something I really took away as a positive from that race.
“But yeah, I’ll be heading to China looking to win – but it’s just as important to pick up some good points if, for whatever reason, a win isn’t on the cards.”
The Stevenage-born F1 star has enjoyed mixed fortunes around the stunning Shanghai International Circuit.
Hamilton said: “I have some vivid memories of racing in China – some good, some not so good!
* Age: 27 (January 7, 1985)
* Grands Prix: 92
* Wins: 17
* Pole positions: 21
* Fastest lap: 11
“I’ve won there twice – both were victories I’m really proud of.
“In 2008, it was a very important race, and I really needed a good result for the championship – we had a pretty much perfect weekend with pole position, fastest lap and the race win.
“Then in 2011, coming off the back of a difficult weekend in Malaysia, I had a great race, kept pushing every lap and managed to take the lead right at the end.
“It was a very important win because it showed that we could be a force in the championship that year.”
Ahead of round three of the FIA F1 World Championship, Hamilton added: “It will be very interesting to see how the order has shaken itself out over the last three weeks – it’s going to be an interesting weekend.”