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Hamilton looks to reign in any weather

  • Story Highlights
  • Hamilton hopes for a dry race in Japan despite excelling in wet conditions
  • Driving the fastest car on the grid is Massa's best chance of the F1 title
  • Ferrari ordering Raikkonen to back up Massa's championship challenge
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Neale Graham
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- McLaren's Lewis Hamilton returns to the scene of, arguably, his finest hour when the Formula One world championship reaches Japan.

Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa are fighting for the world championship, which moves to Japan this weekend.

The Englishman had already made the most impressive debut season in F1 history by the time he drove a stupendous race to win in torrential rain in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

A year and a blown-title opportunity on, Hamilton insists he would prefer a dry race this time as he looks to extend his seven-point lead in the standings over Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

"I love Japan," he said. "Last year might have been difficult because of the wet weather and the poor visibility, but I actually really enjoyed that weekend.

"As for the race, one of the questions I get asked most is whether I prefer to drive in the rain. My answer is always the same: I'll race in the wet or dry, I don't mind.

"But it's always easier for us drivers to race in the dry; I'd always prefer a dry race." Read more about F1 at The Circuit

Judging by past performances, Hamilton's chances of victory are improved in the wet. He has taken Michael Schumacher's mantle as F1's rain-master, while Massa has struggled to get his Ferrari handling to his liking when the track is anything other than bone dry.

And after the drama of Singapore, when he left the pits with the fuel hose still attached to his car and wound up point-less, Massa is determined to reel Hamilton in with only the grands prix of China and Brazil to come.

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"I am confident we will be competitive again," he said. "The Fuji track was an enjoyable one to drive last year, at least without the rain.

"As for the championship, it depends how you look at it: a seven-point gap can be a lot or it can be a little.

"If you look at what happened to me in Singapore where my gap went from one point to seven so suddenly, then you have to consider it could easily go the other way as well.

"The most important element to consider is that we have a very good car. We have two good cars and we can try and get both of us to finish ahead of our rivals. It can be done and we need to think positive and we need to keep fighting to the last race."

Mathematically, the championship is still open to BMW's Robert Kubica and Massa's team-mate and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.

But both need Hamilton and Massa to hit significant problems for them to realistically join the fight going to the final two races.

And it has prompted Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to urge the lackluster Raikkonen to shake himself out of a slump that has seen him not score for four races.

"I'm sure Kimi has understood this moment," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "He is not a rookie nor a former star -- we are talking about the reigning world champion.

"In the last three races he'll have to demonstrate to everyone the effects of being a champion by helping the team and Massa. It's clear we need him at 100 percent."

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