LEWIS Hamilton feels McLaren could challenge the Red Bulls if it rains at Interlagos today (Sunday) in the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire lines up fourth on the grid at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo this afternoon.

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, starts on the second row alongside McLaren colleague Jenson Button and behind the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel, who claimed a record 15th pole position for the season in qualifying, and Mark Webber.

The Herts-born motor racer said: “I don’t think we’re quite there in terms of race pace in the dry, but hopefully we’ll be there if it’s wet.

“Whatever happens though, it’s going to be a tough, long race; and if the weather is wet or changeable, as predicted, then it’s going to be very interesting indeed.”

Speaking after qualifying in Brazil, Button added: “If it rains here tomorrow [Sunday], as we’re told it may well do, then it’ll almost certainly pour down – and that’s bound to make things very tricky.

“Still, this place lends itself to good overtaking – over the years there have been some great moves into Turns One and Four for example – so I think everything is well set for Formula 1 to put on a fantastic show.”

As for the famous circuit, Hamilton said: “Interlagos is a place that makes you feel inspired as a racing driver: it’s Ayrton Senna’s homeground, and the Brazilian fans are unbelievably passionate.

“I’ve started fourth here a few times before [in 2008 and 2010], so I hope four is a good number for me.

“Let’s hope we can turn it into something even better!”

The team principal at McLaren is hoping for one of his drivers to take the chequered flag – rain or shine.

After qualifying on Saturday, Martin Whitmarsh said: “Looking forward to tomorrow [Sunday], it may well rain – and, if it does, the race will surely be incident-packed and therefore unpredictable.

“We geared both our cars with the probability of a wet race in mind, in fact.

Brazilian Grand Prix: Technical Specifications

Top speed: 320km/h

Average speed: 210km/h

Pit straight length: 450m

Circuit length: 4.309km

Race length: 71 laps/305km

Number of corners: 15

Longest section at full throttle: 15.9s/1200m

Configuration: Anti-clockwise

“But, rain or no rain, Jenson and Lewis are both hungry to notch up Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ seventh victory of the season, and we’re confident that both their race cars will be fully competitive on the day.”

The 2011 Grand Prix of Brazil starts at 4pm GMT.

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