SINGAPORE (Reuters) - McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is keen to take a leaf out of Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso’s book by improving his consistency in the final seven races of the season to bolster his title chances.
The 2008 world champion sits 37 points behind the Spaniard in second place in the drivers’ standings and although both men have won three races apiece, it is the Ferrari’s ability to pick up points in the other races that has helped Alonso forge ahead.
The 20-race calendar takes the series to Singapore this weekend, where the floodlit, 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit represents a welcome stop for both drivers, having won three of the previous four Singapore Grands Prix between them.
“Fernando has been incredible consistent throughout the year, he’s had a lot less problems than others have but that’s the name of the game,” a relaxed and fit-looking Hamilton told Reuters on Wednesday.
”You need a team that doesn’t mess up in the pitstops, a car that’s reliable and then you need to do your job.
”Unfortunately, I have come out (retired) a couple of times - or been taken out - and we have had a lot of pitstop problems but no reliability problems.
“So if we can continue the rest of the season by having the fastest pitstops, the fastest car and the most consistent driver then we should be able to win the title.”
The second half of the season has been encouraging for Hamilton, who sandwiched being taken out in Belgium by Romain Grosjean with victories in Hungary and Italy.
“The least I can hope for from this week is just to remain in the fight. We have a good car so I hope that the performance we had in the last race is reflected here,” the Briton added.
“I feel I am in a good head space. I am fit and ready. Let’s keep fighting.”
Hamilton will need to draw on all his strength and fitness to vie for top honours in Singapore, a race the majority of drivers regard as the toughest of the season both physically and mentally.
“The temperature is pretty intense. For example, today, just getting in my suit and driving in the car, sweating like crazy,” the 27-year-old said.
“In the race, it will be just the same. You have thermal underwear on, you have a suit, you have a balaclava, gloves, and a helmet, and you’re in a cockpit and the humidity, so there’s no cold air coming into the cockpit, and then just the focus, driving a car is massively physical.”
Then comes the recovery period.
“It takes a couple of days to wind down from a race. For us, because we train so much, some races are physically easy. Monza (Italy) wasn’t really a stress for me, so the next day I was able to train,” he added.
“But here, your liquid levels and natural vitamin levels are low and you need at least a day of relaxing to get them back up.”
Hamilton displayed little emotion on the podium after his Monza victory two weeks ago, fuelling speculation in the paddock that a rumoured switch to Mercedes next season was becoming more likely.
However, the Briton explained his lack of joy was more to do with a personal matter than anything concerning his future driving plans.
“We buried my aunt that week, so she was constantly on my mind, she had been on my mind for particularly the last three weeks or so, so it has been a tough time for the family, and just had a lot on my mind,” he said.
“It was nothing to do with being unhappy. Trust me, I was happy. I just won a grand prix I had never won before.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)