F1 driver Hamilton wary of forecasts

Nurburgring, Germany: Lewis Hamilton was wary of saying too much about his immediate and long-term futures on Thursday as he looked ahead to this weekend`s German Grand Prix and his future career with the McLaren team.

On the eve of his third racing visit to the Nurburgring as a Formula One driver, he had more to say about his previous visits to the circuit in the Eifel mountains that he did about his plans for 2012 and beyond.

Hamilton said: "Well, the last time we were here it was such a mixed weekend - we had been struggling with the car in the early races of the season and the guys back at the factory had been working around the clock to find a solution.

"From my very first lap I could feel the difference in the car. It had been transformed. I qualified well, got a really good start thanks to the KERS (power-boost system) and I was just about in front at the first corner when I was hit from behind and picked up a puncture, which damaged the car.

"In 2007, we had that crazy race with a huge downpour after just a few laps. I`d pitted for rain tyres after again getting a puncture, but even with those it was too slippery.”

"I just hit some standing water and went straight off, along with several other drivers, in the same place. Race control made the right call to stop the race and the marshals did an amazing job in hazardous conditions to lift me out of the gravel with the crane.”

"Since I`d kept the engine running I was able to get back and take the restart. I was a lap down, but I really enjoyed myself in the race, even though I finished just out of the points."

In those two races, he finished ninth - in 2007 - and 18th and last two years ago, when the race was last held at the Nurburgring. The `ring hosts the race every two years, sharing it with the Hockenheimring in alternate seasons.

Hamilton`s luck at the latter has been far better, winning there in 2008 on his way to the title and finishing fourth last year.

Hamilton was also the victim of his first major crash in Formula One at the Nurburgring in 2007 when he went off at more than 245 kph in qualifying, but escaped unhurt. He passed medical tests on Sunday before taking part in the race.

Once again, this weekend, heavy rain has been forecast and that has left Hamilton wary of making forecasts as he and McLaren team-mate fellow-Briton Jenson Button bid to put their title bid back on track with a strong performance.

He said: "The lesson to draw from all my experience is never to make predictions when you come to the Nurburgring!

"The current circuit may be less epic than the original 14-mile layout, and certainly a lot safer, but it can still bite you. The weather can turn in a matter of moments. You can have all the seasons in one afternoon.

"And when that happens, I know I can rely on the team to react quickly and decisively. And that`s what we need now."

As the season reaches the half-way point with the 10th race of 19, Hamilton faces a mammoth task in attempting to overhaul local hero German Sebastian Vettel`s 95-points lead in the standings.

The Red Bull driver has 204 points and leads team-mate Australian Mark Webber on 124. Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, victorious in the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, has 112 and the McLaren men are level on 109.

"It is going to take something special from us and perhaps a few problems for Red Bull, but we are going to give it our best shot," said Hamilton. "Beyond that, who knows?"

Bureau Report

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