Lewis Hamilton has his sights set on completing Formula One's own version of the awesome foursome. The McLaren-Mercedes driver returned to the top of the drivers' standings yesterday with victory in the Belgian Grand Prix, his third win of the year and 14th of his career.
The 25-year-old's triumph at Spa-Francorchamps now sits alongside those at two of F1's other great historic circuits in Silverstone and Monaco. The only other track to tick off on his list of must-wins is Monza, the scene of next month's Italian Grand Prix. That race, along with the Monaco, British and Belgian Grands Prix, are the only ones still surviving from the original 1950 calendar. And in the 60 years since, only eight drivers have managed to win all four during their careers - Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Juan Manuel Fangio, David Coulthard and Jody Scheckter.
"I've never won before at Monza," said Hamilton, whose best result was second in 2007 in his debut year. "It is a very historic circuit, Ferrari's backyard as well, so one where you want to win even more. "Of course, you want to win every grand prix, but there are certain ones that mean a lot more, have more significance." Hamilton's lead may only be three points from his closest rival Mark Webber, the Red Bull-Renault driver, but his intention now is to hold onto that advantage through to the end of the season.
"I hope so," said Hamilton. "That's what I'm working on, that's the plan, but it's difficult to know what will happen. We've generally always been very good in Monza. The straights will be good for us there, so hopefully our overall package will too. "But then we go to Singapore and Japan, and they are going to be two very tough races because they require high downforce and our car does not work very well with that, as we all saw in Hungary.
"But these next few weeks we're really going to be working hard to try and optimise the set-up for high downforce." Should McLaren crack that issue then it should prove to be a fight to the finish between Hamilton and Webber, runner-up at Spa. Despite his experience, Webber has yet to be tested in a title scrap, unlike Hamilton who fought to the finish in 2007 and 2008. "That should count for something," Hamilton said. "But Mark has his head firmly screwed onto his shoulders, his feet on the ground. Whether he will be fazed by any pressure I don't know, but he's a world-class driver."
However, the 25-year-old is far from ruling out Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, his McLaren teammate, and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who all failed to collect a point from the race in Belgium. "We just don't know what's going to happen between now and the end of the year," Hamilton added. "There are still so many races and 150 points available, which is a lot to play for, so people can jump up from there."
* Press Association