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GP Week : Issue 31
> F1NEWS> Hamilton confident ahead of showdown Stats say it’s Hamilton’s to lose from here – and he’ll drive for points LEWIS Hamilton has vowed to race for points rather than glory as he enters a familiar part of the F1 season. With just three races to go in the 2008 championship, the McLaren driver holds a seven point lead in the Formula 1 World Championship. In 2007, he moved into this period of the season with a 17 point lead over eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen, but the Briton has insisted that a change in philosophy has concentrated his efforts on doing only what he needs, in order to take the crown. “I think I learned something when I was behind David Coulthard in Singapore,”Hamilton said last week. “Previously, you’d tell yourself to be consistent and avoid any unnecessary mistakes – but it’s one thing saying it and another to do it. And once you get in the car, it can be hard to stop the instincts you’ve been developing since you were eight years old. “But I actually think Singapore was a good learning experience: there was less pressure to achieve a victory because of the unusual circumstances, which meant I was actually able to start thinking of the world championship. I hate driving for points, but I think we can all see the benefit of that approach at the moment.” Hamilton’s admission of his change in tactics comes on the back of an incredibly tight season – but if nothing else, the stats are on his side! Having scored points in 12 of the 15 races held thus far, Hamilton has averaged 7 points per scored race. His main championship rival, Felipe Massa, holds a slight advantage in the statistic challenge, as despite scoring in only 10 of the races thus far held, his points per scored race average is 7.7. Should the duo continue this average for the final three races, Hamilton would lose 2 points to Massa and would take the title by five points. Looking over the last three races of the season, things are even closer. Massa has scored 13 points to Hamilton’s 14. If this trend continues, Hamilton would win the title by 10 points. Even if the duo repeated their end-of-2007 form, Hamilton would still be the favourite. Last year Hamilton scored 12 points to Massa’s 17 over the final three races of the season, which, if replicated, would leave Hamilton with a slender two point cushion to take the title. Crucially, Hamilton doesn’t even have to beat Massa in the remaining three races – three finishes on the Brazilian’s gearbox will suffice! Of course, the great unknown is Kimi Raikkonen. The defending champion is all but out of the title chase, but it was his stunning form at the end of last season, scoring 26 points in the final three races, that netted him his first world crown. A run of good results for the out-of-form Finn at the end of what has been a troubled season, could have a large effect on the championship challenge. Hamilton won the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix and was joined on the podium by 2007 Renault driver and current McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in second. A repeat of such a result would do Hamilton’s championship aspirations a world of good. “I love Japan,”Hamilton confirmed. “Last year might have been difficult because of the wet weather and the poor visibility, but I actually really enjoyed that weekend. The Japanese fans are some of my favourite in the world: so passionate, but really polite, charming and respectful. “As for the race, one of the questions I get asked most is whether I prefer to drive in the rain: my answer is always the same, I’ll race in the wet or dry, I don’t mind.”