Lewis Hamilton admits that he will have his work cut out in France after being clouted with a ten place grid penalty for his pit-lane blunder in Montreal. But the British ace is relishing the challenge of carving his way through the field and demolishing the image of Magny Cours as a single-file race track.
The obvious approach to redressing the damage caused by Hamilton’s penalty would have been to fuel the McLaren driver long into the race in the hope that he can get some clear air and use the pace of the MP4-23 to leapfrog his rivals.
“Without giving too much away, I suspect he’ll run a little bit longer in the first stint than would otherwise have been the case,” said McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh in the aftermath of Hamilton’s pit-lane faux-pas in Canada. “We haven’t modelled it yet, but intuitively that’s what we’ll probably do,” he added.
However, Hamilton has since muted the idea of running an aggressive strategy which would assist him in his endeavour to scythe his way through the pack at the beginning of the race.
“We’ve already looked at the best ways of optimising the strategy to help us move up the field,” revealed the 23-year-old, “and I guess I’ll just have to pass some cars if I want to get into the points!”
Hamilton also pointed to the comparatively shorter pit lane at Magny Cours which could open up the possibility of a two or even three stop strategy in the race.
“An area we can really focus on is the strategy – Magny-Cours has a relatively short pitlane which does open up the strategic options available to us in the race.”
The McLaren driver begins his assault on the summer season confident that he can make amends for his pit-lane mishap in Canada and that the MP4-23 will be better suited to the demands of Magny Cours and Silverstone than last year.
“Although the result in Canada may have been disappointing, our overall pace was a great boost for the whole team,” enthused Hamilton. “Last year, we lacked a little bit of pace in high-speed corners, but this year’s car definitely seems to have overcome those shortcomings. We are in good shape.”