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Happy hat trick for Hamilton?

2012-04-12 07:56

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will be looking for a third successive win at Shanghai on Sunday following a frustrating start to the 2012 F1 season.


SHANGHAI, China - The Bahrain Grand Prix has so dominated Formula 1 news this week that teams and drivers, here for Sunday's Chinese F1 GP, could almost be wondering whether they have landed in the wrong country.

There may be a lack of desert sand but Shanghai does offer some guaranteed action while the sport decides whether to travel to the warring Gulf kingdom as scheduled on its way back to Europe.

The unrest in Bahrain, bringing with it concerns for both the safety of teams and the far-from-unblemished image of the sport, has overshadowed what promises to be a fascinating race this weekend.


Team bosses will discuss the situation with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt over the next few days but in the meantime there is a job to be done on the track.

There is the very real prospect of a third winner from three races with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton looking for his third success in China while avoiding a couple of less welcome hat tricks.

Red Bull, which took its first GP win in Shanghai in 2009, has double champion Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber eager to return to winning ways after McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took the opening victories.

Mercedes, with Michael Schumacher back at the circuit where he took his last win in 2006, will also be hoping to challenge for the podium.

Hamilton looks a good bet for a third consecutive pole start and what would be McLaren's 150th since 1972 at a circuit where he is the only man to have won twice. The Briton was third in the 2012 Australian and Malaysian GP's and wants a win now, even if he is taking more of a long-term view of the situation.


"I'm looking at the championship as a whole. Although I'd love to win every race, it's more important to be in a good points-scoring position at every race," Hamilton said after Malaysia. "I think the first two races have shown that, as a team, we're in positions to win.

"I won't deny that I'm disappointed to have had two pole positions and not converted either into a victory 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," he added. "2011 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."

A third podium in a row would be a better start than his 2008 title-winning season; and he had to wait until the sixth round of his rookie 2007 year to win but still ended up a point away from the title.

Last year, thanks to clever tyre strategy, China brought him the first win of his campaign despite Vettel and Red Bull having a faster car.


"I don't think the pecking order has settled down yet, so it's important to get some good results in the bag," Hamilton added. "It will be very interesting to see how the order has shaken itself out over the last three weeks."

Alonso's win in rain-hit Malaysia was against the odds and Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez may not repeat his second place in a hurry but Red Bull has struggled to find the qualifying pace that made the team so dominant in 2011.

"The first two races looked extremely tight - it's not yet clear what is the right order," Vettel said on Wednesday. "Surely McLaren at looks more promising as the strongest team so far - the team to beat this weekend?

"But they are not far away. Our car has potential... another couple of steps and then we should be in much better shape."

Stay with Wheels24 for the Formula 1 weekend.

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