Hamilton sets sights on hat-trick
The Formula One championship moves to the Magny-Cours circuit in France this weekend.
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2007 11:25 GMT
Teammates Lewis Hamilton, left, and Fernando Alonso
will continue their McLaren battle [GALLO/GETTY]
Lewis Hamilton, British Formula One rookie, is set to increase his lead in the drivers' championship at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours this weekend.
Hamilton, who leads Fernando Alonso, his McLaren Mercedes-Benz team-mate and defending double drivers' world champion, by 10 points following his back-to-back wins in Canada and the United States, goes into the French Grand Prix brimming with confidence.

Hamilton has finished on the podium in all seven of this season's races so far, and a win at the Magny-Cours circuit would seal a rare hat-trick in his maiden season and set him up perfectly for his home British Grand Prix just a week later.

The 22-year-old driver, who has astonished fans and pundits with his level-headed self-control, personal attention to detail and sheer mental strength this year, could double his lead by the end of  the month and leave Alonso psychologically struggling to handle his  dilemma.

Buoyed by unparalleled popularity as the first driver of Afro-Caribbean descent to race in Formula One and revelling in being the current darling of the British sports media, Hamilton has shown he has all the requisite talent and dedication to succeed.

Alonso, 25, who admitted he could not keep pace with his younger teammate in qualifying for the last race at Indianapolis, has continued to make optimistic and defiant remarks, after telling the Spanish media that he "had never felt comfortable in the team"  at McLaren.

"It is a long season, there is a lot of racing left," Alonso said last week.

"Anything can happen and I am satisfied. I can make up this position, but I have to push hard to do it."

Just like Prost and Senna

On the eve of this weekend's 70-lap contest around the tight, smooth and technical Magny-Cours track set in rural central France, several comparisons were being made with a similar teammate dual in the late 1980's between Frenchman Alain Prost and  Brazilian Ayrton Senna, when both raced for McLaren.

Prost said this week that he understood why people compared the two situations and said he felt sympathy for Alonso.

"He came to a new team, at McLaren, where he had wanted to be for a long time, and he hoped to feel at home like in his own family," Prost said.

"But that did not happen for him. Instead of being the only son, if you like he found he had a brother already there that he did not really know about! And he is worried that he is the favourite."

According to Prost, winner of four drivers' titles in his career, 80 per cent of the battle to be fought out by the two McLaren drivers now is psychological, rather than technical, and in that respect, he said he felt Hamilton had the advantage.

"He is new, and he is young, and Alonso is the older guy who has been winning a lot.

"So everyone supports the new and young guy. It is always like that."

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