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Hamilton identifies with Wimbledon winner Nadal

July 18, 2008 11:25 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] cast himself as the Rafael Nadal [Images] of Formula One on Thursday, recognising in the Spaniard's epic Wimbledon triumph the same fire that burns within him on the racetrack.

The 23-year-old championship leader said he had listened spellbound to the dramatic final set as he headed home from his own stunning victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 6.

"The game went on for so long, and I only caught the last half an hour, and that was long enough for me," the McLaren driver told reporters at the German Grand Prix.

"I thought Federer was going to win. I'm not biased, but because I know him and he is a fantastic athlete who has achieved so much. But I knew Nadal was hungry for it."

Hamilton, now resident in Federer's native Switzerland [Images], compared the beaten world number one to Michael Schumacher [Images], Formula One's now-retired but once dominant seven times champion.

"Nadal had something new," he said. "He had even more hunger, and it is impossible to match that once you have won it a lot of times."

Asked whether he identified with that in his bid to become Formula One's youngest world champion, Hamilton replied: "Probably, yes.

"I've had the hunger since I was five or six years old," added the Briton, who missed out on the title by a single point last year. "It's always been there, and I think always will be.

"I'm even more hungry to win at Monaco and Silverstone again next year...that's a positive thing for me."

PRE-RACE NERVES

Hamilton, winner of three Grands Prix this season and a remarkable seven from 26 career starts, is locked in a three-way tie at the top of the standings with Ferrari's [Images] world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] and Felipe Massa [Images].

While giving every impression of being cool and collected before every race, Hamilton offered an insight into his state of mind before every race and the nerves he has to wrestle with on the starting grid.

"They are never nerves thinking you might fail, they are of excitement, with the adrenaline pumping," he said.

"It's about whether you will get the start perfect; what will happen in the first corner, because it's an unknown. You've no clue as to what will happen.

"Do you go left or right? do you brake early or late? Will you get hit from behind? do you get a flat tyre? There are so many questions, and that's the exciting thing about it," he continued.

"I've had it [pre-race nerves] since I started racing, and every time it's the same before a race. I have the same excitement, and as long as I have that always I will keep on doing what I'm doing."

Hamilton said there is no routine that could help, and neither does he want one.

"I know how to get myself into the zone, but every time it is a different feeling, a different emotion, a different nerve," he said.

"It is always different and that's the cool thing. Every race of my life has been different, every single one, and I've had a lot of races."

© Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage

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