Lewis Hamilton has one Formula One record. If the McLaren rookie can manage to win his first Grand Prix, he just might claim the most important one of all.
Hamilton was runner-up to Felipe Massa of Ferrari for the second consecutive race at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, moving the 22-year-old Englishman past two-time defending world champion Fernando Alonso to the top of F1's championship standings.
But no driver has ever won the championship in his debut season, or without winning a race.
To that end, Hamilton's quest for a maiden F1 win will lead him to the same circuit where he triumphed on the GP2 circuit last year - in Monaco, on May 27.
"Monaco has always been a very strong race for me, and I was saying to Felipe, one day we'll get him and you never know if it's that one or not," Hamilton said.
"I think we'll be very strong in Monaco so I'm looking forward to it ... I'm going to be gunning for a win."
Hamilton, the first rookie to land on the podium in his first four races, passed team founder Bruce McLaren by a month and two days to become the youngest driver to lead the standings.
Hamilton has 30 points, while teammate Alonso, who finished third in Barcelona, has 28. Massa is third with 27 points.
"I keep saying I am living my dream, it is really true," Hamilton said. "I have been working so hard for this and to come into only my fourth GP and come out leading the championship with the top two drivers here is incredible."
Hamilton, the No. 2 at McLaren behind Alonso, has found a likely rival in his Ferrari counterpart Massa.
The 26-year-old Brazilian recovered from a sixth-place at the Australian GP to move ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen and become Ferrari's most consistent threat.
"For the second consecutive race weekend, Felipe Massa put in a flawless performance," Ferrari boss Jean Todt said. "Felipe drove impeccably, controlling the situation to bring home a wonderful win."
Massa paid tribute to the former teammate - seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher - who was in pit lane at the Circuit de Catalunya for his victory.
"Once again, I would like to thank Michael for the help he has given me all these years," Massa said. "His lessons have been useful."
Teammate Raikkonen, who is fourth in the standings with 22 points, continued to be let down by his F2007 car and retired with an electrical fault after nine laps.
Breakdowns were part of the reason he joined the Italian team after a problematic 2006 with McLaren.
"Honestly, there's little to say except that I'm disappointed," Raikkonen said. "I have lost precious points but there's still 13 races to recover."
Despite enjoying the support of a sellout record crowd of 140,000, Alonso - who became the first Spaniard to win the Spanish GP last year - is in the thick of the hunt for a third straight title.
"No doubt I'm very disappointed with the race itself," the Spaniard said. "If Kimi hadn't retired, probably I would be out of the podium and, starting second, that was not the aim of the race."
Alonso followed up last year's win here with a victory in Monaco to help pad his lead in the championship. It looks tighter this year but Alonso is ready for all challengers.
"(Lewis) is still the same, still my teammate," Alonso said. "I see him the same way as I see Felipe and Kimi. But he is the one who worries me less because he is my teammate and we are here to help each other."
So far the teammates have helped McLaren to first place in the constructors table with 58 points. Ferrari is second with 49.
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