Lewis Hamilton says he is prepared to fight for every point to ensure a disappointing season does not fade into obscurity. As he prepares for Sunday's seventh race in Turkey, the world champion has just nine points. A fourth-place finish in Bahrain has been the highlight so far for the McLaren-Mercedes driver. Hamilton admits his car is struggling to keep pace with the championship front-runners Brawn GP and Red Bull, forcing him to fight among the also-rans.
But his teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who has just four points, provided hope with the fastest time in the second practice session on Friday at the Istanbul Otodrom. And Hamilton said: "Heikki did a great job and seems to be fast enough, so for this weekend's race we look like we may have the pace to be in the top 10 and that's a great step for us. "I was quite surprised by the pace of the car. We definitely have got more pace than we anticipated.
"I am not saying we have the speed of the other top guys but we are getting closer. "It's been a complete hustle all year to get into the top 10. We are hustling and grinding to get every bit out of that car as possible. "Some races we do, but I feel we have got a little bit more out of the car every time and that's why I am happy with the work we have been doing. If we were a lot closer [to the top teams] we would have caught up by now, but we were a long way away.
"For sure. I definitely prefer a scrap when you are quick enough to win races, but it's a pretty hard scrap at the back. "But I have got plenty left in me and I will use every ounce in me to get back to the front, to finish the races and score points." It was a frustrating day for Jenson Button, the man who is likely to dethrone Hamilton as the champion. The Brawn GP driver, who leads the standings by 16 points, was 11th and then 12th fastest in the two practice sessions.
He said: "We've had a tough first day trying to find a good balance with the car. We tried many different set-up options over the course of the two sessions, but unfortunately could not get the car to where I want it to be and struggled with a lack of grip. However we now have a great deal of information to review after trying a few evaluations and believe that we have some understanding of what is causing the problems."
The Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel also came to a standstill in the afternoon with an engine fault. He added: "Having one car running on Friday isn't ideal." Meanwhile, a dispute between Donington Park's bosses has been resolved to ease fears for the future of the British Grand Prix. A court battle loomed between Landowners Wheatcroft & Son Ltd and leaseholder Simon Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL) over £2.47 million (Dh14.5m) of unpaid rent.
But the matter has been settled out of court and Gillett, now keen to start developing the site to host the 2011 GP, said: "This is another positive boost for Donington Park. We were always aware that saving the future of the British Grand Prix was an enormous task, but it is one that we are fully committed to and will make happen." firstname.lastname@example.org