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Easy target // Lewis Hamilton prepares for Italian Grand Prix with fast Free Practice times

Published by Christine

Lewis Hamilton prepares for Italian Grand Prix with fast Free Practice times
Steven Tee/LAT Photographic

Lewis Hamilton has started his Italian Grand Prix weekend as best as he can, finishing top of the timesheets in Free Practice 1, and then battling Sebastian Vettel for the top spot in the afternoon session. Although the championship leader beat him to P1, Hamilton was not far behind - finishing the day just three hundredths of a second off Vettel’s time. The Brit is hoping for good things from this race, after coming under fire for a couple of overtaking incidents at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Hamilton explained: "I'm trying to get back to having some good results, so I can stop negative stories being written about me... I guess I am an easy target at the moment because I am always in trouble, so hopefully at some stage I will move away from that spotlight and get into a good light, and people will only have good things to say.”

Both McLaren drivers have won two races each so far in 2011, but it has been hard to keep up with the pace shown by the Red Bull drivers, specifically Sebastian Vettel. Lewis has also racked up a couple of non-finishes, and thinks that might be affecting his image as well.

He continues: "It feels like it's been a worse year than I have had previously. In 2007 and 2008, there were some incidents there as well, but because I won the championship they were forgotten. I guess as I am not competing for the championship right now it is different."

The team have defended Hamilton’s season and his driving style, suggesting that every great driver has their ups and downs. McLaren engineer Philip Prew said: "We will not ask him to change because Lewis has a very charging and aggressive approach and we fully support that. It's won him championships and that's our intention.

Prew added that whatever a driver goes through is good experience, and the tough races can only help in the future: "Lewis is a very clever guy and he's a very good racing driver, and he will reflect on the difficulties that he's had this year and he will come back stronger."

Meanwhile, Jenson Button has also hit out at complaints regarding Hamilton’s temperament. When asked how they compare, the former champion said: "We're very different people. Lewis is more outspoken, but is that wrong? I don't know. It's sometimes good to get your points across. If you have an issue with something, you have to let people know. We're just different people in that respect.”

This weekend, both McLaren drivers will be hoping they can do something to keep Red Bull off the top spot, and with the potential for changeable conditions on race day, anything could happen. For Hamilton, it may be time to keep his head down and get in a good, clean race, but as Button puts it:

“I think Lewis is Lewis. I don't think he's changed this year from last year. He's a very fast, extremely fast, driver that loves overtaking.”