Lewis Hamilton wide awake for Monaco win after oversleeping ahead of Practice
Lewis sets fastest time in Thursday practice; Victory on Sunday could be a "turning point" declares Sky F1's Damon Hill
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 23/05/14 9:07am
A sheepish Lewis Hamilton has admitted he nearly missed the start of practice for Monaco after oversleeping - but the Mercedes driver insists he is wide awake to the prospect of a potentially pivotal victory in the season's showpiece event this weekend.
Despite - or perhaps because of - living on the doorstep of motor racing's most famous street circuit, Hamilton, a Monaco resident, was a late arrival to proceedings on Thursday morning after missing his alarm call. Only the hasty deployment of a Mercedes mechanic - and the emergency deployment of a boat to sidestep the congested streets of the Principality - meant the 29-year-old was able to reach the team's garage in the nick of time for Practice One.
Yet despite the slow start, Hamilton was quickly in his stride, setting the day's fastest time in the morning session before winding up second to Fernando Alonso in a rain-affected Practice Two.
"It felt great, I was really surprised it felt so good," Hamilton told Sky Sports News afterwards. "The track is amazing to drive and the car is really behaving a lot better for me than it did last year.
"If we had both sessions then maybe, but the fact we got in that one session at the beginning is a huge plus because I got in a long run as well so I feel pretty set for Saturday. There is still some work to do in terms of picking up our pace, but we'll be good."
Hamilton hurries through the Monaco paddock on Thursday morning after oversleeping
Hamilton's only previous victory in Monte Carlo occurred in 2008. But armed with the grid's fastest car, and buoyed by four successive wins in the early months of 2014, he knows that a second win around the legendary mean streets is his for the taking.
"Monaco is one of the greatest races of all, it's such a classic," he added. "I'm hoping this year with the great car we have I can do what I should do."
Nico Rosberg, second to Hamilton in Practice One and second to Hamilton in each of his four wins this season, represents the most formidable obstacle to the Englishman's ambition of stretching his lead of the World Championship with another win on Sunday.
A year ago, Rosberg dominated the event as he secured a lights-to-flag victory, prompting Sky Sports F1 Martin Brundle to label the German "the man to beat" on Thursday.
Yet at a track where Rosberg has previously prospered, and with his confidence already battered by the seemingly-relentless tide of his team-mate's recent surge, another Hamilton win and another Rosberg defeat this weekend could mark a significant "turning point" in their World Championship dogfight according to Damon Hill.
The thought has seemingly occurred to Hamilton too. After months of cheery back-slapping bonhomie inside the Silver Arrows outfit, the realisation that only Rosberg is likely to thwart a second World Championship has caused Hamilton, for the first time in 2014, to publicly acknowledge that what's best for Mercedes may not be the best for him.
Asked by the official Formula 1 website to specify his dream result for Sunday's race, Hamilton returned the question with a superior one of his own: "For me or the team?"
Invited to put himself first, Hamilton's reply was telling: "Finishing first, Fernando finishing second and Sebastian finishing third. That would be it for me. The dream result for the team would be the Mercedes cars finishing one-two and one of those guys in third."
The gloves may finally be coming off.