Lewis Hamilton is all too aware of the threat posed to him by Felipe Massa at the start of today’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The championship protagonists line up alongside each other for the second race in a row, and although there has yet to be a coming together, Massa’s sensational getaway in Hungary, in which he dived around the outside of Hamilton, will no doubt be playing on the Briton’s mind again.
“Yeah, he’s obviously been very quick in the last couple of races, his starts have been going better and better,” admits Hamilton.
“In Hungary I think we had a very good start. I don’t know in the last race that we had the best but we were on the dirtier side. I don’t know whether we’re on the clean side here, I don’t particularly think there is a real clean side.”
“The team has been working very hardâ€¦ there’s not really much more that I can do. If the grip’s there, if the settings are right, then I will be able to extract the most from it but 1) if you don’t have the grip you struggle, and 2) there are some areas that we can improve on but I think we will be strong tomorrow.”
The start/finish straight at Spa-Francorchamps is one of the shortest on the calendar and its tight first corner hairpin played host to one of the most dramatic starts in 1998 when David Coulthard triggered a multiple car pile up in the wet.
Lewis Hamilton says he his sole intention is to stay ahead, and reckons the shorter run down to the opening corner could play to his advantage.
“I think for the start it perhaps makes it a little bit easier,” he said. “I think the longer the straight from the startline the more effect a good start will have.”
“But I think it’s tricky here. There’s turn one and then you’ve got the longest straight in the world after turn one, so it’s going to be an interesting start tomorrow but I plan on staying ahead.”
Felipe Massa has not ruled out the possibility of out-running his championship rival at other parts of the track.
“I think the most important thing is the initial part of the start, because in the initial part you see the possibilities you have to go side-by-side or whatever and under braking you always try to brake late and see how it’s going to be.”
“Then you can also have another possibility on the back straight which is a very long straight but it all depends on how you manage your start at the beginning, so we will see tomorrow.”
“For sure we will fight each other but we also want to finish the race, which is the important key, so let’s try to do our best in whatever conditions.”