Hamilton promises maximum attack in title battle

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FUJI, Japan, Sep 29 (Reuters) McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has borrowed Mika Hakkinen's motto and promised ''maximum attack'' in his bid to become Formula One's first rookie champion.

''Attack, attack 110 percent,'' the 22-year-old rookie told reporters at the Japanese Grand Prix when asked about his mindset with three races remaining and a two point lead over team mate Fernando Alonso.

''Going in with the guns blazing,'' the Briton added with a laugh.

''Just pushing and trying to do the best job I can without making mistakes and trying to score as many points as I can at this race.'' Hamilton has a tough battle ahead of him if he is to become McLaren's first champion since Finland's Hakkinen took his second title in 1999.

Alonso has reeled him in over the last few races and the Spaniard appears singularly unaffected by controversy and condemnation swirling around him in the wake of a spying scandal that cost McLaren the constructors' title.

The relationship between the two team mates has now deteriorated to the point where Hamilton is openly critical of his rival's behaviour and attitude.

He told reporters on Friday that he did not think Alonso had been loyal enough to the team, despite others bending over backwards to make him feel at home at McLaren after the move from Renault.

However Alonso knows all about handling the pressure and dealing with the psychological warfare that comes to the fore when the championship enters its decisive phase.

The mood in the paddock, among those prepared to hazard a guess on who will ultimately emerge as champion, swung towards Alonso after the previous race in Spa and could be even more pronounced after tomorrow.

''I have been immensely impressed with Lewis, but we may have seen a little chink in his armour after Spa,'' said Renault engineering head Pat Symonds earlier in the week. ''As for Fernando, we know how strong he is psychologically.'' Hamilton recognised the pressure was on but said he could handle it.

''I think it's definitely an advantage for them to have been here and done that,'' he said of Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

''With more and more experience and being a bit older, having the experience of coming to the end of the season and being on that limit and knowing you've been either hunted down or you're chasing someone, they've got the experience.

''But still, I think I have the advantage of being a bit younger and maybe hungrier than some of them.'' REUTERS PDS RK1010

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