25/07/2017

Hamilton chasing top ten result at Snetterton after making gains at Croft

Nicolas Hamilton is targeting his first top ten result since returning to the Renault UK Clio Cup at Snetterton this weekend in between, he admits, exchanging the odd text with brother Lewis who’ll be busy at the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix…
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The WDE Motorsport driver believes progress made at Croft just before the mid-season break is an indicator of things to come, even if this wasn’t reflected in his results at the North Yorkshire circuit.

Hamilton said: “Oulton Park where I came back was always going to be tough – everyone else by then was up to speed in these latest Clio Cup race cars whereas I’d only had one test.

“Croft was also tough but I was much closer to the main pack than at Oulton. To qualify P13 ahead of some seriously quick people was really good. OK, I aquaplaned out of P12 in the race and in race two I didn’t get the start right, but the main thing was about development and we saw a massive step forward.”

Hamilton’s best UK Clio Cup race result so far is a ninth from when he previously raced in the championship in 2011. His best qualifying position to date is a sixth, achieved the following year, 2012.

He added: “I’m here to win, aren’t I? I want to be on the podium; I want to win a race. I don’t want to be at the back for much longer and don’t plan to be, but you also need to be realistic. I’m working towards that ‘top five’ pace. I’m aiming for a top ten at Snetterton.”

Hamilton will use Friday’s two test sessions at Snetterton to practice, among other things, his starts – his Cerebral Palsy means he uses a unique hand-controlled clutch (mounted on the steering column).

He added: “Outright pace is the most important thing but if I do well in qualifying I don’t then want to undo all that hard work by not getting a decent start. So it’s about working on any weaknesses and I know I’ve got great support in WDE – they are a fantastic team of people.”

Hamilton’s presence in the UK Clio Cup paddock is among the most high-profile of any driver at British Touring Car Championship events. This weekend will surely be no different – while his determination to not let a disability stop him hinder his progress makes him a role model, the fact he’s brother to an F1 megastar surely adds to the hype.

He continued: “A lot of people are coming and asking for autographs. People are excited to see me in Clios and it’s making my sponsors happy. I’m able to carry on my story.

“The more exclusive I can look with my own awning, branding, my car on display… that all adds to my brand and adds value for my sponsors.

“Being at Silverstone with Lewis (when he won) certainly got me more coverage! On saying that I don’t really think about it in terms of if he does well whether that has a knock-on effect for me. I just think about what I’ve got do to and being me for the fans.”

The two though are very much in touch regardless of where on the planet they might be racing on the same weekend.

“When we were at Croft he was in Canada and I found time to watch him – I always will,” commented Hamilton.

“I prefer to watch him live but if not because of my commitments on track then I’ll catch up later. We might send each other a quick text in the morning and then he might check the TSL timings screens or message me to see how I’m getting on and then maybe we’ll have a chat later in the day.”