Hamilton says British GP hopes still strong

Updated: 2007-07-03 08:53

PARIS, July 2 - Lewis Hamilton says his hopes of winning in Britain on Sunday are as bright as ever, despite Ferrari's one-two victory in France at the weekend.

McLaren's 22-year-old rookie will start his home grand prix with a 14-point lead over team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso after finishing third at Magny-Cours while the Spaniard was only seventh.

McLaren are 25 points clear of Ferrari in the Formula One constructors' standings.

"I still think that we will be extremely competitive there (at Silverstone)," said the Briton, looking forward to his first race appearance as a Formula One driver on home soil.

"I know that the team is working very, very hard back at the factory to keep on improving. I know when we go to the next race we will be even quicker. I'm feeling fairly confident.

"As long as we continue with the reliability that we have, the consistency, then I don't see why we won't be able to fight for the win."

Hamilton's consistency is unprecedented for a rookie. No other driver in the history of the sport has made such a debut, with eight successive podium finishes including two victories.

The four top drivers in the championship have now all won two races each this season and Ferrari clearly raised their game after being soundly beaten by McLaren in the last three races.

Yet Hamilton is 22 points clear of Sunday's race winner Kimi Raikkonen and 17 ahead of the Finn's Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa.

The youngest Briton to win a grand prix, and the first black driver, Hamilton is his country's brightest hope of winning the championship since Damon Hill triumphed in 1996 with Williams.

No other Briton since Hill has led the championship into the British Grand Prix, the midpoint of the current season, and Hamilton recognised it was shaping up to be a very special weekend.

"Going into my first Silverstone Grand Prix in the team that I have always wanted to drive for and leading the world championship is one of the greatest feelings that a driver can have," he said.

Ferrari, he warned, could expect an immediate reply to their first one-two in a year: "The Ferraris were very quick this weekend but I still think we can take it to them in the next race."

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