Twice Le Mans 24-hour champion Allan McNish is tipping Lewis Hamilton to achieve his dream of winning the Santander 2008 British Grand Prix tomorrow – but still believes Ferrari will take the world driver’s championship and possibly the constuctors’ title too.
McNish, who turned to racing sports cars after almost three years in F1, believes Hamilton will be all out to win his first Grand Prix on home soil, despite the fact he has had a disappointing couple of weeks – first he was forced to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix after a smash and was then served with penalty points in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours which left him finishing the race in tenth position.
Last year the young British driver just missed on victory in his Silverstone F1 debut after a costly pits error.
McNish, who lives In Monaco, said: “Lewis Hamilton has a very good chance to win and I am sure both he and his team are working very hard this weekend to win the British Grand Prix and ultimately pursue the world title.
“To my mind however McLaren-Mercedes will find it very tough to beat Ferrari – the team , the cars and the drivers in Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonnen. All are very strong and very able and I think they will be tough to beat over the course of the season.
“McLaren have in Lewis Hamilton the makings of a very, very good driver but the one bit of advice I would give him is to focus on each race independently rather than trying to take on the whole season.
“Unfortunately today there are so many distractions for a young racing driver - all the media interest and the focus on your personal life and how you spend your time away from the track. I am sure if Lewis keeps his cool and keeps focussed he will do very well in deed.”
Scottish-born McNish, 39, who clinched the Le Mans 24 hour race for the second time in May – exactly ten years after he first won the event in 1998, spent a spell with Toyota Racing but his romance with the sport was short-lived after he was controversally dropped by the team in favour of newcomer Christiano Da Matta.
He said: “I ended my Formula One career in 2003. I made the decision then that there was not the opportunity I was looking for in Formula One. I could not compete with the top teams and for me I only race to win.
“I realised if I wanted the chance to compete in the big races and have a chance of winning I should revert to driving sports cars rather than be a part of Formula One just for the sake of it, knowing the best I could ever achieve was around tenth place.
“Some drivers are different – they just want to drive F1 but I am very competitive and I don’t regret for one minute now turning my back on that for Le Mans which is one of the most iconic races in world motor sport.”
McNish, who has also won the American Le Mans event twice, added: “To me driving sports racing cars is just like F1 but with the covers on – I absolutely love what I do.”
McNish was at Silverstone to meet up with his old pal from his karting days, David Coulthard as Coulthard announced his retirement from Formula One and at the age of 37. He will now see out this season with Red Bull racing before calling it a day.
McNish said: “Us Scots tend to stick together and I love to catch up with David and the other drivers and the other teams.But I don’t envy them. I have won the most beautiful trophies at Le Mans and don’t intend to call it a day yet.
“This year’s race was one of the closest and most exciting ever with Jacques Villeneuve and now I have won Le Mans twice I would love to go for a third victory.”