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Cheers to Hamilton on his maiden India visit

Mumbai, Jul 25: McLaren's Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton was cheered by hundreds of rain-soaked fans when he made his maiden visit to India on Thursday, July 24. Dressed in racing overalls, the 23-year-old Briton zipped into a city karting centre for a sponsor's event in a kart and later said India would be a nice place to hold a F1 grand prix.

"When we arrive on Friday for the Grand prix, we have two hours of practice, which is nearly 30 lapses in each session. It's not a long time. Then we have Saturday, July 26, straight quarterfinal. There's hardly any time to prepare or to change the car. We have over thousand components in the car that we can change. For me, I have to get out there and learn the circuit as well," he said.

Hamilton said karting with all the floodlights on would be tough.

"Night race is going to be tough I think. We had champ car night races and NASCAR but nothing ever in Formula 1. I think when I'll arrive I'll be blown away just by what has been done to make it brighter. I think they have put lots of floodlights. But I think it will be very technical and very tricky for overtaking, shadows and everything. I have to pick a right advisor. It's going to be tough," he said.

Hamilton said he had along way to go as a Formula One driver.

"I am surprised and very overwhelmed by that comment made especially made by Nikki. I am a good friend with him. He was a formula driver. For me as a driver, I change, I improve all the time through experiences not just race by race, but in life. When it comes to driving, I just push beyond limits. When I am training, I go beyond the pain barriers. I just do everything," he added.

India is scheduled to host its first grand prix in 2010 and the construction of an F1 circuit near New Delhi is due to begin in October.

Narain Karthikeyan became India's first F1 driver in 2005, stoking ambitions among youngsters in his country. Vijay Mallya bought the Spyker team last year, renaming it Force India.

Hamilton demonstrated his driving skills in a kart with six laps of a course shortened due to monsoon rain.


Story first published: Friday, July 25, 2008, 11:01 [IST]
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