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Hamilton says he can win in France
June 12, 2008 14:19 IST
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] said on Wednesday he could still win next week's French Grand Prix despite a 10-place penalty on the starting grid.
"I feel quite confident that we can still win there. That's my job. I've got to have that belief in myself and the team," the 23-year-old Briton told a news conference at the McLaren factory.
"I still feel we can finish in the top three but it's going to be a real challenge."
The accident, with the Finn stationary alongside Robert Kubica's BMW [Images] Sauber in front of a red light at the pit lane exit while the safety car was deployed, put the two championship frontrunners out of the race.
Raikkonen criticised Hamilton for the bizarre accident on Sunday and he sounded no happier about Hamilton's driving a few days later.
"I can't believe that somebody can hit you when you stand at the red light side by side with another car," he said on his Web site. "I can't believe that he did not see the red light and, more than that, the two stationary cars down there.
"I think Hamilton deserved his penalty."
Hamilton, appearing with team boss Ron Dennis and Britain's 1996 world champion Damon Hill at the launch of a campaign to encourage more people into all forms of motor racing, said he has moved on already.
He rejected a suggestion that the Montreal blunder is a low point in his 24-race Formula One career.
"It was nowhere near one of my lowest points. I don't even particularly feel it was a low point," he said. "It was one of those things you just have to come to terms with and move on. In the race I was on top of my game."
Hamilton had been three points clear of Raikkonen in the standings before Montreal but their elimination allowed Kubica to win and take a four-point lead.
"I believe it [the title] is going to be very difficult to win but I don't plan on it going to the last race," said Hamilton, winner twice so far this season and overall runner-up to Raikkonen in 2007.
"We will push as hard as we can to do the job, it doesn't matter if it is early or the last race. So long as we get it done."
Hamilton hoped that the "Go Motorsport" campaign would attract more Britons into the sport by providing them with a Web site (www.GoMotorsport.net) that explains how to become involved.
"The timing has never been better to launch this type of project," said Colin Hilton, chief executive of the Motor Sports Association which governs the sport in Britain.
"Interest in motor sport in the UK has never been higher, thanks in no small part to Lewis' exploits, and in the face of competition from other leisure activities we, as the governing body, must do everything we can to ensure that the sport continues to grow and expand."
Hilton said the Hamilton effect is evident already: "If you talk to the karting community, they have doubled in sales of some classes of chassis," he said.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage