x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Hamilton gets to know Yas - but only by computer

Lewis Hamilton has been doing his homework on the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi - by watching online video footage and playing video games to get himself familiar with the track's 21 bends.

Lewis Hamilton speaks with reporters in Dubai yesterday.
Lewis Hamilton speaks with reporters in Dubai yesterday.

Lewis Hamilton has been doing his homework on the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi - by watching online video footage and playing video games to get himself familiar with the track's 21 bends. The Briton, who arrived in the UAE yesterday from Bahrain, said he knows any the broad details of the 5.55km circuit, but had done as much research as he could by watching clips of Bruno Senna driving around the track.

"I don't really know the track too well, if I'm honest," said the 24-year-old. "I saw the little video they show when you walk through the airport, I have seen some footage of Bruno Senna on YouTube, and I have played a computer game simulation, but other than that I don't know too much about it." Despite his apparent lack of knowledge of features such as the pit-tunnels and run-off areas that stretch under the stands, Hamilton is confident that Abu Dhabi can see him complete a hat-trick of 2009 Grand Prix wins after victories in Hungary and Singapore.

"I always find circuits very easy to learn; it's a technique that I picked up when I was very young, but is a skill I have improved on over a period of time. When I was in GP2, we had such a short practice session that you had so much information to soak up," he said. "I never come to a track with expectations, but I hope we can be competitive and have a chance of winning so I can end my season with my third win."

Hamilton, having won the 2008 drivers' world championship on the final day at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos, struggled with a poor car at the start of this season, but has improved in recent months and is the most successful driver of the second half of the year. Despite Jenson Button having wrapped up the 2009 title earlier this month for Brawn-GP, Hamilton's McLaren team are still embroiled in a battle with their arch-rivals Ferrari for third in the constructors' championship. Hamilton will use this as extra motivation when he takes to the track.

"We are all competing at such a high level and I've really been pushing the workshop to the limit and have now reached a level that we never thought we could reach," he said. "We have exceeded our expectations; I mean to be not scoring any points at the start to finishing on podiums and getting points in every race is remarkable and strengthens our belief that you should never give up. Every race is important, but for us to finish third after not even being in the points a lot of the time at the start of the season would be a real achievement.

"And of course, it's always nice to beat Ferrari." The McLaren-Mercedes driver added he is has fond memories of being in the Emirates and is looking forward to getting to grips with the track when practice begins tomorrow. "I have heard incredible things about the circuit and I'm sure that, with the amount of effort they have put in, it will be a great show this weekend. And everyone keeps telling me I'll drive through a hotel, so I'm keen to see that ..."

@Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae