Yeah, even more than usual.
I suspect there are a few reasons for that. Of the leading drivers, he’s the only one without a win, and given we’ve had four different winners in 2010, it seems like he might just be due. Plus, he does seem to have an affinity for the place in the way Senna did, having won in Monaco in three different series.
And of course there’s his diamond-encrusted helmet and steering wheel!
The official F1 site has added to the Lewis-mania with a quick Q and A that, I think, helps us all continue to fill in the dots about Hamilton’s character and offers some insights into the track. A few key excerpts:
Q: Lewis, how was Thursday practice for you?
Lewis Hamilton: Obviously we werenâ€™t at the top of the times, but the car felt very good and I love to race at this track. The weather was decent, at least for the majority of the running, so itâ€™s a good feeling. I really love being at this circuit, and it feels so much better now than last year for me. In fact the car feels light years better than last year so, yeah, weâ€™ve made some good steps forward with the set-up so I think we should be okay.
OK, I’m not clear. Does he love this circuit?
Q: What does it feel like to race a Formula One car on this track?
LH: It is really difficult to describe. Even if you drive a normal road car, and if youâ€™ve been away for one year, you seem to forget how crazy it is. When you come back and look at these streets you think â€˜wow, thatâ€™s going to be toughâ€™. And when you are out there things seem to happen so much faster than normal, twice or three times the speed of another circuit. The barriers seem to be flying by. Itâ€™s very bumpy and you are always on the edge. You think that if you brake a little too late you are in the barrier, so you are going so carefully. Itâ€™s a fantastic feeling when you have good downforce – it feels phenomenal to drive here.
That’s a pretty good summary of why I said this is the best race in the world.
Q: Youâ€™ve won at this track in Formula Three, in GP2 and in Formula One racing. Why do you think you are so good around here?
LH: I guess, generally, perhaps it is more my nature to take more risks than others would. Itâ€™s difficult to describe, so let me put it this way: maybe I am a little more aggressive than others. On top of that I love street circuits.
Q: Would you say that this is one of the tracks where the driver counts for more than his car?
LH: Yes, I think the driver gets more out of the car here compared to other places, like Monza for example. Itâ€™s a driverâ€™s track. It is a street circuit. It has no run-off areas and very little space for mistakes.
Classic LewHam boasting! “A little more aggressive.” Priceless.
Q: Wouldnâ€™t it be a fantastic place for your first win of this season?
LH: Absolutely. This is the best place to win and I havenâ€™t given up hope. We know how competitive everyone else is, so I need to keep my fingers crossed. But I am not under pressure to win this weekend. It will come eventually, as my performance has been very good so far this season, so Iâ€™m building on that.
Can we count which drivers might be under more pressure than Lewis at this point in the season? Is maybe Felipe Massa that only one? I’m sure he’s trying to stay relaxed, but he’s got to be feeling the pressure of Jenson Button’s performances, not to mention Fernando Alonso and the two Red Bull drivers.
Still… I think he just might do it this weekend. Seriously.