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Hamilton enthralled by Monaco madness

2014-05-24 13:47

GOING MAD IN MONACO: Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton during practice for the 2014 Monaco Formula 1 GP that's "insane, ridiculous, terrifying, incredible!" Image: AFP / Alexander Klein

ALAN BALDWIN

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Insane, ridiculous, terrifying, incredible - a lap of the Monaco GP circuit is all that and more for Lewis Hamilton... and he can't get enough of it.

The 2014 Formula 1 championship leader is an old hand at mastering the most glamorous and historic street circuit in motorsport but says he still finds it as awesome, stomach-churning, as when he first raced here as a rookie in 2007.

He won there in 2008 for McLaren on his way to that year's Drivers' title.

'LIKE A ROLLER-COASTER

The Mercedes driver, asked ahead of Sunday's (May 25) race which part of the layout most made his hair stand on end, just smiled. "There's not a single part that doesn't," replied the Briton, "it's the whole track.

"I wish you could feel what we feel when we go round," he added. "It's like when you go on the scariest roller-coaster ride, when you drop off the cliff and you go down that first bit...

"That fear factor, the initial part that lasts for just a split second - here it's the whole lap. It's scary but it's cool. It's all these different emotions in one. It's just the most incredible roller-coaster ride."

Three rookies will race an F1 car around Monaco for the first time, Toro Rosso's Russian Daniil Kvyat standing out as the only one who's never even competed here a junior series.

Hamilton grinned at the thought: "It's going to be like being in the room with Freddy Krueger," he said, referring to the serial killer of horror movie fame.

Hamilton's boyhood hero, late triple champion Ayrton Senna, is the master of Monaco with five wins; his qualifying lap in 1988 was so sensationally quick it seemed almost superhuman.

The Briton has only admiration for such an achievement, knowing only too well how hard the metal-fenced layout can bite the unwary - and how fast it feels even if the average speed is the slowest of any GP.

'JUST LOOKING AT THE SKY...'

"It's a circuit you have to walk very slowly before you can run. You're not running before you get to Sunday, probably," he said. "It's so fast. You go up that hill (to Casino Square) at almost 320km/h, you get up there and you can't even see the corner at the top as it drops down.

"You're just looking at the sky and all of a sudden the corner arrives and you can't see around it. Oh man! I'm getting excited just thinking about it."

One mistake, the slightest clip of the crash barriers, can end in carnage. Brake a fraction too late, especially in the new V6 turbo-hybrid cars that are far more prone to skipping out of line, and the wall awaits.

"That's why it's the best track - there's no room for error," said Hamilton. "It's ridiculous, it's insane how fast we go through there," he added, referring to the swimming-pool complex after cars have blasted through the tunnel and out into the sunlight alongside the harbour.

"The coolest thing is that they keep the race on, that they allow us to race here. It's the most real race there is."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Monaco F1 GP weekend.
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