Lewis Hamilton fastest at practice session

Written by Rajat Guha | Rajat Guha | Updated: Oct 29 2011, 07:17am hrs
Budh International Circuit, Greater Noida, Oct 28: Mclaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the opening practice session of the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International circuit.

The 2008 world champion clocked 1 min 26.836 sec with his final run as he went past Red Bull's newly re-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel and his teammate Mark Webber of Australia.

There was an air of gloominess around the McLaren-Mercedes team building as former world champion Lewis Hamilton came down for a chat.

It wasnt because the air-conditioning wasnt working and it certainly wasnt due to the fact that Hamilton is currently fifth in the Drivers Championships with 196 points.

The reasons were a bit more personal this time.

Yet to win a race in what he calls his "worst season in Formula One", Lewis Hamilton is also nursing a broken heart after splitting up with singer Nicole Scherzinger but insists it won't be a distraction at this Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.

With his sole focus on Sundays inaugural Airtel Indian Grand Prix, Hamilton was looking forward to driving on the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.

It looks like a fabulous track. I have driven on it

in the simulator but being in the car is totally different. I walked around the track on Thursday and it has some quick and wide entries and along with the double DRS zones on this track it should provide great opportunities for overtaking, he said.

Walking the track has been a regular routine for the 26-year-old driver who made his F1 debut back in 2007. I have walked every circuit since 2002. Sometime I take a cycle, a motorbike, a car or even a tuk-tuk. But it is a routine that I have maintained for a long time in my life, he said. Hamilton, who is no stranger to India having participated in a couple of promotional events, recalled his visits with understandable excitement.

Yeah, I have been a few times before; we have done a few promotional days there. The last time was just crazy - just after Singapore, we did a demo run in Bangalore and were expecting 5,000 people to turn up. On the day, there were around 40,000 fans it was just incredible, he said.

Hamilton said he strives to win the Indian GP as the team wants to win the inaugural Indian Grand Prix so that they can make a strong start next season.

"Red Bull has already won the championship this year but we were pretty close to them. We would be looking at winning the last couple of races so that in the next season we can have a good base," said Hamilton.

Hamilton was quite surprised with the hype around the inaugural Formula One race in the country.

"Cricket is the most popular sport in this country as the team has done well but I don't think we ever expected there to be such a great following from Formula One fans, and now I am sure that even F1 will achieve that kind of a popularity," Hamilton said.