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Hamilton eager to tackle legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit

Thursday, September 22 2011

Nicolas Hamilton, brother of 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Champion Lewis, returns to the scene of his race debut as he takes part in the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup at the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 1/2 October.  

MotorSport Vision caught up with the popular rookie to find out how his maiden season in motor racing has developed ahead of his visit to the famous 2.3 mile Kent circuit. 

You're nearly at the end of your first season of motor racing - how have you found it?

Nicolas Hamilton: "It's been a big experience for me. I think that the season has been full of ups and downs, misfortunes and fortunate times also. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can but obviously I'm up against a lot of quick and experienced drivers that have been driving since they were eight years old. I only started racing this year so it's been six or seven months with no testing beforehand. It's been difficult because time has been up against me and even though we get two 45 minute sessions, it's not really enough for me because I haven't got the experience to go round and gain some time. We're getting there however and hopefully in the future it will be better."

What's been the biggest challenge of the year?

NH: "The biggest challenge for me this year was getting back into the car after my crash at Thruxton. It was a different car, it handled a little bit differently and going through the corner that I crashed on pushing hard, has to be the hardest part, but I came through it. I wish that the crash hadn't happened in the first place but it's a good thing that it did because I now know that I can learn from it and go forward from there."

Your season started at Brands Hatch - what are your memories of that weekend?

NH: "My memories of the weekend would be the amount of attention that we had, the awning was completely full, it was a big thing for Lewis and my dad to be there watching me and my racing for once. It was completely different to what I'm used to. I think that another memory would be my first start, going into Paddock Hill with everybody around watching. In my second race into Druids I went up the inside of like four drivers and got through so that was a brilliant feeling."

Last time it was the Indy circuit, this time it's the full GP - should this mean a different approach?

NH: "To be honest I have never driven on the GP circuit, I'm not really sure on where it goes as I think that Dingle Dell has changed now. I'm looking forward to racing on it as it is such a legendary track and everybody wants to race there, Brands Hatch is an awesome circuit to race on. I'm just going to take the race weekend one step at a time and see where we end up from there."

How competitive have you found the AirAsia Clio Cup?

NH: "It has been crazily competitive. At Rockingham we were adrift of the top eight by just two tenths, it's just so close. It just shows that you really need to have the time and money to put into testing and gaining track time, if you're going to challenge. You can't just jump into a Clio Cup car and expect to be at the top. I'm glad that I came to the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup and I wouldn't want to be in any other championship to start my career."

Which particular moments over the course of the season stick in your mind?

NH: "I would have to say at Donington Park when we were at our second race meeting ever. At Brands Hatch we were right at the back but when we got to Donington we actually raced with the other drivers so that was a great feeling. Everything was good about that weekend so it has to be my most memorable. Oulton Park and Snetterton don't fall to far behind either as they were very good for me also. I've had a good number of weekends that I have enjoyed. I think that now we are trying to get away from the enjoyment side of it and knuckle down to try and find some pace."

By the end of the year, what do you want to have achieved?

NH: "By the end of the year I would like to be closer to pole position, at Rockingham I was 1.2 seconds off but I went off as the track started to get quicker which was unfortunate. At the time I was on the track, I was only eight tenths off so I think that at the end of the season I would like to be within a second which I think is a very good shout. This leaves us with a very good base to work from for pre season testing and onto the racing next year."

Hamilton will take part in qualifying at 11.15 on Saturday followed by the first of  his two races at the weekend beginning at 16.25.  

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, featuring Nicolas Hamilton in the Air Asia Renault Clio Cup at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (1-2 October) are available in advance from £25 until Thursday at midday, with free entry for children 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.