Hamilton seeks Monaco victory as F1 record looms

Lewis Hamilton is out for his first season victory on Sunday at the Monaco Grand Prix in what would complete a unique achievement in Formula One racing.

If Hamilton prevails at the glamour event the 2012 campaign would see an unprecedented six different winners from as many races.

According to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the 2008 champion Hamilton stands an excellent chance of topping the podium.

“Lewis … has been driving brilliantly all season and a victory at his favourite circuit would be just reward for all his speed and commitment,” Whitmarsh said.

Hamilton said: “I’m coming off the back of two relatively disappointing results and there would be no better place for the cards to fall in my favour than at Monaco.”

McLaren have won a record 15 races in the principality but stats seem to mean nothing in a season highlighted by total unpredictability.

Jenson Button won the season-opener in Australia, Fernando Alonso won for McLaren in Malaysia, Mercedes’ driver Nico Rosberg topped the Chinese podium, world champion Sebastian Vettel won for Red Bull in Bahrain and Pastor Maldonando was a surprise first for Williams two weeks ago in Spain.

It is only the fourth time that the first five races have seen different winners, following 1967, 1975 and 1983, and another first-time season winner on Sunday would mark a new record.

“At least 10 drivers have the chance to win in Monaco,” said Rosberg.

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said that “Formula One is more exciting and unpredictable than ever before.”

The history and flair of Monaco will only add to the desire of drivers to do well on the turning and twisting 3,340m street course in what is the slowest race of the season.

Button and Hamilton, Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Vettel, Alonso, Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and record champion Michael Schumacher make up seven drivers in the field who have won in Monte Carlo.

“Monte Carlo is a place where every driver wants to win, but achieving it is so satisfying because you know you’ve conquered one of the toughest circuits in motorsport. Winning the Monaco Grand Prix will always be really special,” said Button, who won in 2009 for Brawn.

Hamilton said: “Monaco is a very special circuit. It’s up there with Silverstone as the place where I most want to do well.”

A refuelling blunder by McLaren in qualifying possibly cost Hamilton victory in Spain as he was stripped of the pole position in Spain and moved to the back of the grid.

Now he gets a new opportunity while Schumacher’s chances appear over before they started in the form of a five-place grid penalty over an accident in Barcelona.

But Schumacher names driving around the Monte Carlo streets “a lot of fun” and Vettel said the course simply doesn’t allow for mistakes.

Vettel jointly leads the 2012 standings on 61 points with Alonso, followed by Hamilton (53), Raikkonen (49), Webber (48), Button (45) and Rosberg (41), as the top seven are separated by less than a race win for which 25 points are awarded.

Monaco is also special as far as the schedule is concerned, with the first two free practice sessions on Thursday (instead of Friday elsewhere), qualifying Saturday and the race Sunday.