FORMULA One leader Lewis Hamilton is looking to capitalise on his triumph in Montreal and break the unprecedented run of seven different winners in seven races with another victory at this weekend's European Grand Prix.
Besides keeping his eye on the most wide-open field of challengers ever seen, Hamilton will have to fend off Fernando Alonso's improved Ferrari and two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, going for his third consecutive win at Valencia.
Hamilton leads Alonso overall by two points, and Red Bull's Vettel by three.
"The intensity of this year's championship means there's so little breathing space. We may have won in Canada, but there's an enormous amount of pressure to keep racking up good results at every grand prix," said Hamilton, who has finished runner-up three times in the four years the race has been held in the Mediterranean coastal city.
Even though this season is proving to be the most competitive in the series' history, Hamilton enters the event at the sinewy America's Cup harbour course in top form.
The English driver finally broke through with a commanding win two weeks ago at the Canadian GP when his McLaren team outfoxed Ferrari and Red Bull with a well-timed pit stop to give Hamilton the fresh set of tyres he needed to overtake Vettel and Alonso and claim his first win of 2012.
Hamilton believes the season will be tightly contested to the end.
"I think that consistency, rather than individual strong results, will be the key to winning this world championship, so we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result," he said.
Pirelli's tricky tyres have kept teams guessing for the best setup and pit-stop strategy and the outcome in doubt through the first seven races of the year.
The Valencia street circuit is notoriously tough for passing, so a strong qualifying run on Saturday and smooth teamwork in the pits should play a critical role to determine who celebrates on the podium come Sunday.
Last year, Vettel beat the second-place Alonso by more than 10 seconds after speeding away from pole. The German also recorded the fastest lap on the 5.4-kilometre (3.4-mile) course that features 25 turns.
Vettel said the circuit was both one of the fastest and most demanding.
"In Valencia, we drive an average of more than 200 kph, which means it's one of the fastest street circuits in Formula One," said Vettel.
Alonso, who has never won in front of the home Spanish crowd at Valencia, left the Canadian GP ruing the risky decision to try and maintain his lead on worn tyres late in the race, only to see his pace falter and end up finishing fifth. But, after a slow start to the season, Ferrari have revamped their car and given the two-time world champion a vehicle they believe capable of winning on any track. AP