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Motor Racing: LEWIS: F1 CAN WIN FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: By BYRON YOUNG

LEWIS HAMILTON spoke last night of his fears for Formula One as Grand Prix bosses plotted how to fight the global credit crisis.

The 23-year-old flies into Monte Carlo today to receive his championship trophy against a backdrop of frantic behind-the-scenes bargaining by team heads and the FIA to cut team budgets from nearly pounds 1million a day to just a fifth of that.

F1 is dogged with fears other teams will be forced to follow Honda out of the sport.

"These are tough times for everyone but the sport is doing what is necessary to adapt and survive," said Hamilton.

"We gave the fans a great show last year and I have every confidence it will be even better next year."

Honda's withdrawal had shocked Formula One, said Hamilton, but he felt rival Jenson Button had the talent to survive and battle back to the top. "Honda's decision was a disappointment to everyone who follows the sport," he added. "I feel very sorry for Jenson, who has been driving in F1 since I was 15.

"Jenson's a really good bloke and a fantastic driver and he fully deserves to stay in Formula One. I only hope I'll be racing against him once more and that the Honda team finds a buyer to make sure it stays on the grid in 2009.

"My thoughts are with Honda's employees and their families as they face a difficult time in the weeks leading up to Christmas."

Hamilton was in London to promote the Johnnie Walker anti-drink-drive campaign before heading to Monte Carlo. After swopping the helm of his 210mph F1 McLaren for a London taxi, occupied by mayor Boris Johnson and retired double F1 champion Mika Hakkinen, he hailed London's cabbies as heros.

"They are champions as well," said Hamilton. "They have a huge role in helping our drink-driving campaign in their day-to-day jobs."

CAPTION(S):

HAILS THAT Hamilton with mayor Boris Johnson; FIGHTER Fellow Brit Jenson is backed by Lewis
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2008
Words:333
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