The in-form Mercedes man eyeing another win at Monza, says Alex Ballard
Italian GP BBC1, 12.10pm (Sunday)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton hopes that he will once again be the target of Ferrari’s boo-boys upon the conclusion of tomorrow’s Italian grand prix.
Last season’s race at Monza ended with the victorious Briton being barracked as he stood atop the podium. A year on he wants more of the same.
Tradition dictates that any driver not clad in Ferrari red receives a jeering from the “tifosi,” the Italian term used to describe Ferrari’s passionate fans.
So Hamilton wants to hear those boos once more as that would mean he had taken the chequered flag for a second successive year around one of the most revered of venues.
“I would love to have that experience again this year — I’d pay to have that experience,” he said.
“If I’m up there and I’m being booed that means I’ve won, so I definitely want that. I’m sure it will be the same again this year, although surprisingly I have a lot of support here, which I wouldn’t have expected.”
Hamilton got his race weekend off to a good start at Monza yesterday as he was fastest in the first practice session with a lap of one minute 25.565secs, 0.035secs ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
With Hamilton third and Alonso second in the drivers’ standings, 58 and 46 points adrift respectively, both men know they need a strong result this weekend to eat into Sebastian Vettel’s lead at the head of the driver standings.
Yet while the pair prepare to try to force their way back into title contention, Kimi Raikkonen’s faltering season may be about to get worse with the Finn left in limbo after being snubbed by Red Bull.
Raikkonen was thought by many to be one of the favourites to fill the gap due to be left by Mark Webber’s retirement at the end of the year.
However the constructors’ champions have instead opted to promote Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso and with a return to Ferrari unlikely after the manner of the Finn’s exit from Formula One in 2009, Lotus remain Raikkonen’s best option — but only if they can meet his demands.
Team principal Eric Boullier has previously confirmed everything is being done to meet those conditions, but until that time Raikkonen does not have a seat for 2014.
Commenting on Red Bull’s decision the Finn said: “I don’t think anything went wrong. Probably they wanted a different thing.