A return to winning ways?
Marina Bay 2014
Singapore Grand Prix
Hamilton ready to end season on a positive
McLaren Mercedes
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Nov 2011   |  6:56 pm GMT  |  59 comments

Lewis Hamilton looked on good form today in the paddock at Interlagos as he spoke openly about his ups and downs in 2011 and drew the conclusion that although it’s been a painful year, he has grown as a driver and his three wins, including at the last race in Abu Dhabi, were a great satisfaction. He will be going all out for a fourth on Sunday.

“It’s been a year of growth, which was one of the most positive things I have learned this year,” he said. “It really has been. What I’ve learned this year I’ll take into next so I feel positive about it. I think in the future I’ll look back on this season, smile and say ‘I needed that’.”

This has happened before. He had a tough 2009 season on the track and came out fighting at the start of 2010, leading the championship through the summer of that year.

This year his incident strewn season, laced with the anguish of a private life which wasn’t going smoothly, has asked a lot of questions about him and he’s been beaten by team mate Jenson Button, the first time that’s happened.

I asked him whether he thinks that the torrid experiences of 2011 have made him stronger as a driver and as a man,

“I think I will come out stronger,” he said. “I can’t say I am there yet, but when I get to the winter and reflect on the whole season I will. I’m definitely a lot wiser than when I started the season and that’s always a positive.”

“I’ve been reminded this year just how important family is.”

I also asked him about the way he approaches his racing. When he came into the sport in 2007 with his Dad egging him on his approach was very intense, very focussed and in the last couple of seasons, as life outside racing has evolved, it’s been clear that his focus has wavered at times. This is something he’s very aware of and the hope is that having seen both sides, he will be able to restore intensity at the same time as knowing how to keep a balance in life,

“Its about striking a balance – you can be too serious, too intense, or not serious enough,” he said. “I’ve been racing since I was eight years old and I still don’t have the right formula for it. Obviously the car has a big impact on that, but every year is a journey to finding the right solution.”


I think this is the key for Hamilton. His peaks – like Germany – have been very high, as high as any driver in the field. But he’s also lost his way this year, with the rather impulsive moves which brought him in front of the stewards more often than not.

Also distracting was the break up of his relationship with the singer Nicole Scherzinger, but he said today that the black necklace he was very conspicuously wearing outside his McLaren team shirt, with a black cross on the end, had been a gift from her recently and suggested that he’d had some very positive experiences since Abu Dhabi, which she was involved in, even if there is not a suggestion that they have got back together again yet.

“We had a really good week. a couple of really nice lunches together,” said Hamilton.

“It’s very early days and we still have very strong feelings for one another and I still love her very much. So who knows? Maybe we will be together in the future.”

Hamilton will be wearing a special helmet this weekend, a blend of his colours and Ayrton Senna’s colours with the famous Senna S logo on the back. The helmet will be auctioned off for charity after the race.

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59 Comments
  1. Robert Lujan says:

    I hope he’s comfortable next year and can fight for wins with Button and have another year of mutiple contenders to win the Drivers Championship! The more the merrier! Let’s all hope the racing is closer next season and not again dominated by one team/driver.

    1. KRB says:

      Agreed. I don’t want to see a season where one driver has double-digit wins or wins more than 50% of the races (which is the same thing at present).

      Hard to believe that four were still in with a chance at the finale last year.

      Would also be nice to get more teams outside of the Big Three on the podium more often. While #2 to #5 in this year’s Championship are near the figures from last year, Vettel has scooped up the points that fell to the likes of Rosberg and Kubica last year.

      If Lewis can snag more wins in a season than he’s had before (5 is the most he’s had, though he was on the top step 6x – Spa 2008), then he’ll be there or thereabouts.

  2. Rob Newman says:

    Anyone who saw his attitude towards Nicole this week in the US wouldn’t believe his demeanour has changed. That is not the right way to treat a lady, especially someone who still loves him.

    Hamilton is not the only driver who wants to end the season with a win. Webber is desperate. Massa too wouldn’t mind one. And then there is Barichello who wants to go on a high.

    I think Williams will not sign Barichello for next year. In my opinion, they are postponing the announcement simply because they don’t want a backlash from the Brazilian fans.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think he’s spent time with her this week and that’s why he’s feeling more positive

      1. Left Philangie says:

        He just needs to drive the car.
        Who cares about him feeling good because he spent time with his girlfriend.

      2. Darryl says:

        Please, let us avoid discussing a PCD…

      3. marc says:

        Call me uneducated lol but what is a PCD ?

      4. kidVermin says:

        I think I’m embarrased by the fact that I actually know what a PCD is…

      5. Quercus says:

        Google ‘PCD’, like I’ve just done, then you will know without needing to be embarrassed about it.

      6. formulasfera says:

        Permumes, Cosmetics & Desings, Ha!

    2. TheBestPoint? says:

      Hmm if ur refering to article in DailyMail I would not go by taloid spin anytime soon.

      You got to remember how emotional he is and then juxtapose with how open he is about whatever he is feeling. Whilst Taloid head lines had him as rejecting her I actually saw it differently. To me he seemed tightly wound up or overwhemled by the depth of feelings (whatever they were) which he was trying to suppress (hand in pocket- perhaps to stop himself reaching for her. When they were a couple u always saw them holding hands when together).

      I kind of agree with this time off if she is a distraction even as I feel sorry they both appear to be hurting so much.

      Hamilton snr must feel vindicated in his foresight and he appeared quietly confident that Lewis 2012 will be an improved lewis, when interviewed a couple of races ago and so does Whitmarsh.
      So here’s hoping Nicole does allow Lewis to focus on his racing next season.

    3. efi says:

      what attitude are you referring to,those few pics you saw in a magazin or you have some ‘inside info’.I would really like to know,enlghten me plz.

    4. Left Philangie says:

      Hamilton is the only driver who wants a win ?
      Are you serious ?
      Hamilton has acted like a child this year.
      Someone remind him he is a highly paid driver please.

  3. pablo neuquen says:

    James,any possibility F1 return to Argentina?Have you heard something about it?

    1. James Allen says:

      You do hear talk about it, yes. But I’m not aware of any firm moves. Mexico would probably happen before Argentina from what I’ve heard

      1. Ayrton Mansell says:

        Argentina wont happen soon!

  4. Damo Deans says:

    In a year considered Hamiltons worst year, he still has clocked the 2nd most wins out of any driver in the field and can still potentially finish 3rd in the championship.
    I can’t wait to see what he does when he has a Sebastien Vettel type year when all goes perfectly for him.

    All in all, I agree with what he has said, he is still only 26 and has potentially another 10 years in him if he wanted to stay around for that long. All he needs to do is learn from the mistakes AND McLaren need to provide a faster car. If those two things happen, I fear that it’ll be Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso fighting for the title for many years to come, leaving the rest to pick up the pieces.

    1. Kal says:

      Why do Hamilton fans always talk like the 2011 McLaren is a dog? It won 6 races, could have won 9.

    2. Kris Grzegorczyk says:

      That’s certainly what strikes me most about the way people perceive the mclaren drivers this year. Button is – according to a lot of people – having his best year as a driver. Hamilton is having his worst. Yet they are just over a race win away in points. Will be great to see button build on this year and Hamilton return to his strongest form. Regardless of what Alonso and Vettel do and what kind of cars they’d have, mclaren should right up there for the constructor championship

    3. Mark V says:

      “All he needs to do is learn from the mistakes AND McLaren need to provide a faster car.”

      AND be the only driver for McLaren?

    4. PaulL says:

      Yeah but “worst year” isn’t a disadvantage he’s been carrying around. It’s just a reflection that, probably, he’s under-performed.

      I think the hidden assumption is that there is a more “normal” year which had he had in 2011, he would be higher. And I don’t think that can simply be taken for granted.

      Part of it might be that he isn’t the dominant focus of the team anymore since Jenson Button has been performing comparably. I can’t see that changing next year.

  5. Darren says:

    Well I hope he does well and finds the balance he needs. I find the link with his form to his relationship with Nicole a bit of a worry though.

    I know nothing about the young lady but its clear drivers like Jensen benefit from a stable relationship.

    Still, as a professional I think he needs to find his focus on race weekends no matter what is happening on other fronts.

    I love to see Lewis at his best, I find him th emost entertaining driver to watch so I am hoping McLaren have a fast car from the beginning of next year and Lewis has is all together and we get a great season of racing between four or five great drivers.

    1. Kal says:

      McLaren had a fast car this season though?

      They won 6 races and could have won 9 of them and were always on the podium.

    2. Shankar says:

      I agree. I think one has to have the maturity to separate personal life and professional life. It is worrying that his personal and professional seem to be connected. I don’t think McLaren or any top team for that matter would tolerate these types of mistakes often especially if they have a championship winning car and they are fighting for the championship. If mclaren had a car capable of fighting for the championship, with such races that hamiltion had this year, he could easily have lost it on his own. And that is not good for any professional especially for a racing driver.

  6. Ayrton Mansell says:

    Well hes a good bloke in a dark hole at the moment, know his pain about old flame! It [mod] you mentaly, but he so talented and sharp he will pull out of it hoe Ant close by!

  7. TheBestPoint? says:

    Talking of Hamoilton Snr. Anyone know what the situation is with Paul dR? At one stage he looked to be the sure-in driver but after last 2races not as clear cut who will be driving for FI.

  8. Rohan says:

    Hi James – on another completely unrelated note: Is there anything more to be made of Vettel’s sudden puncture at Abu Dhabi? Both Red Bull and Pirelli are going to great lengths to say “It’s a mystery” and “We’ll never know”. Is there some skullduggery afoot? Were Red Bull perhaps over Pirelli’s recommended camber limits again?

    1. James Allen says:

      NO skullduggery, likely to have been a cut from some debris on parade lap. A freak chance

  9. stuart briggs says:

    So james have you picked up a side gig writing for a womans mag? Is there a follow up on the spat between Alonso and his girlfriend over a bad eyebrow wax.Oh hang on just found the valium,now whats lewis’s thoughts on what nicole’s girlfriend said about him? Harsh may be but this really is DRIBBLE.Have to say though you have the best info and feedback on the net.

    1. Richard Mee says:

      Ha! Whilst we’re in full-on “Hello Closer!” mode – this is obviously going to flare up again – it’s just a matter of time. It’s completely unsorted in any way.

      Lewis needs to get on and do whatever he needs to put a ring on it. Then he can calm down and focus on his job (and she on hers).

      Right, never another word, back to cars and tactics.

    2. CerinoDevoti says:

      I’m feeling the vibe. I wonder sometimes if there’s any testosterone left in England.
      I read no such nonsense about any other driver except Lewis. It’s poor little baby screw up then he’s gonna be stronger. I wish the English Media would grow stronger and resist the urge to embarrass their profession with such cry baby soap opera dramas.
      Find some shame for Christ’s sake!!!

      1. James Allen says:

        ….except that LH was speaking to an international crowd and this story has appeared today in Germany, France, Italy, Spain USA etc etc. Most of the leading journos from around the world were sitting in McLaren listening to this talk by Lewis

      2. Craig @ Manila says:

        JA,

        Are the assembled media constantly throwing questions at him about his personal life ?

        If so, does he ever actually try to dodge the question ?

        Or does LH just basically include it in his words esentially unprompted ?

      3. James Allen says:

        No, he started it this time. He seemed very open, like it was a kind of therapy for him.

        He sat there with the rosary prominently around his neck, which caused an Italian (catholic) writer to ask what that was all about.

  10. Antonis Papadakis says:

    Hamilton still thinks that it’s still about striking a balance?Well neither Vettel nor Red Bull look for any balance.Even Schumacher knows better that no matter the records and the seven titles he holds, there is no balance to find out.Look at him how he tries to extract a little more performance every time and still it’s not enough (in qualifying).I suppose that for some more years we will only see flashes of Hamilton’s enormous talent until…he realises it was never meant to be easy no matter how fast you are.

  11. Kal says:

    Hamilton sounds like he is preparing to be part of a teenage soap-opera, not F1.

    He is emotionally very weak.

    His title, which he barely won against Massa, of all drivers, on the last few corners was a fluke, while being in the slightly faster car on average, looking at individual races.

    He is not a complete driver, just fast, nothing else. And until he sorts out all this other things to be a complete driver, he will never win another championship.

    Except if drivers like Vettel, Alonso, Button suddenly retire.

    1. TheLegend says:

      I think he is really able to beat Jenson and maybe Seb in a complete season. Fernando would be harder.

    2. Shankar says:

      I agree. you put it perfectly.

  12. nick says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a driver interview before when the driver talks about the break up of a relationship, and his efforts to rekindle it. That sort of thing’s normally completely irrelevant, even though personal stuff must affect every driver’s performance to some degree.

  13. Alex W says:

    Webber lead the summer break 2010. Hard to belive after 2011.

  14. Parisian Bob says:

    I rated Hamilton very highly these last 2 or 3 years, but all his talk of ‘personal’ issues lately has not really added to his stature lets say.
    It smacks a bit of teenage whining, all that talk about Button having such a good scene round him, and a girlfriend, etc “and I ain’t got any of that!” I fear that he has to mature a little on the personal side if he wants more titles. It’s time he left the eternal teenager, F Massa, way behind and retook his rightful place with the men at front of grid.

  15. KRB says:

    Any word James whether the FIA will restrict DRS use in practice/qualifying on the big run up to the start/finish straight? The pit lane barrier there would be extremely dangerous to hit head-on … to hit period.

  16. Malcolm says:

    Lewis losing his way…..it looks as though he may have found it at Korea and Abu Dahbi.

  17. Arya says:

    Off topic, but I need to ask this to James. What has happened to Brendon Hartley James? This kid was in RBR radar and we heard a lot of good things from RBR F1 crew about him. But after RBR dumped him, he just seems to be lost!!!!!

    In FR 3.5, he decimated Jan Charouz. In GP2 he scored points despite of driving in 3-4 races only in that poor ORT car. Whereas Cecotto Jr. scored nothing despite of driving for whole season.
    Yet those drivers get chance to showcase themselves in young driver’s test. But nobody cares about having a look at Brendon!!!!
    Surprising would be an understatement.

    1. James Allen says:

      He fell out with Dr Marko, who didn’t think he was performing

      1. Arya says:

        I understand that but does snub from a big team means that a driver becomes F1 untouchable???

    2. Ahmed says:

      He has done a few F1 tests…

  18. Craig @ Manila says:

    Starting to sound like we need to see a “Driver Personal Happiness Graph” each race so we can try to determine the problem contributing to race results.
    Maybe Massa is sad about something but he’s just keeping it quiet.
    Maybe Webber is thinking about the profit/loss of his pub instead of watching for the lights to go out.
    Maybe Vettel is doing really well mainly because he is really, really, really happy with his personal life.

    Seriously, it’s hard to believe this guy is a 26year old world champion and one of the best drivers on the grid when he thinks it’s important
    /worthwhile/wise to spend time telling the media :
    1. Nicole bought me a necklace. Look, here it is.
    2. Nicole and I had a couple of lunches together
    3. Nicole and I arent together but I love her and who knows what the future holds

    Personally, I think I’d rather hear about his views on racing and what he and/or his Team are gonna do differently to get back to the top (where he deserves to be). Sorry, but it’s becoming a bit of a “soap opera” and just-a-tad tabloid-ish.

    1. Neil says:

      Think back….

      How persaonlly/emotionally mature were you at 26?

      And what would have happened if the whole world’s media hung on your words?

      I think Hamilton is going through the same as any teenager (maybe a bit late due to his sheltered lifestlye) but in the full glare of publicity.

      Neil.

      1. CerinoDevoti says:

        There are drivers on the grid yet younger than baby Lewis and we’re hearing no such tit nonsense from them or about them.

      2. Craig @ Manila says:

        Neil,

        I have thought back as instructed and do not recall that, at age 26, I ever felt the need to tell strangers about my personal life.

        I do agree with you that he seems to have the life-skills of a level comparable to that of a teenager.

        Seriously, why doesnt someone just say :
        “Lewis, please stop talking to the media about your personal life, it’s all starting to sound a bit silly”.

  19. goferet says:

    Oooo what another fitting tribute it would be if Hammy could win the Brazilian Grand Prix exactly 20 years after Senna momentous home win.

    But as much as I would want another Hammy win, I think Jens has got this covered for Canada which began about the same time as Brazil was won by the Frome flier, also I missed the Japanese Gp & when I got to watch the replay, it was about the same time as Brazil & that too was won by Jens.

    So am pretty sure Jens is going to do the business besides I can’t see Hammy winning three races in a row (that includes Australia 2012) No, we do not like Hammy becoming a Schumi kind of driver.

    Anyway, a stronger Hammy is going to cause all sorts of problems for his rivals i.e. He’s going to ask Jens & Vettel especially a lot of hard questions on track & for their sakes, I just hope they have the answers.

    For lets not forget, in Lewis’ F1 career, he has had his best seasons while being the number 2 driver e.g. 2007 and 2010

    P.s.

    And oh, JA on F1 that black necklace Hammy is rocking is what I believe they call a rosary.

    1. azac21 says:

      Ha! That’s why his form this year is more like a paternoster….

    2. TheLegend says:

      LOL. He had never been number 2 for more than 4-5 races before this season.

  20. BobCobb says:

    any one thought what Frank or Patrick would be like if their driver was heartbroken over his girlfriend ?

    1. CerinoDevoti says:

      THANK YOU!!!!!!!

      Perfect post. Neither Frank or Patrick are known for coddling babies.

      1. Craig @ Manila says:

        AGREED.

  21. Richard says:

    I really would like to see Hamilton win this. It will be tough with his main rival being the ever fast Sebastion Vettel, secondary to that Alonso, and Button will also have to be kept at arms length with Mark webber beyond that. Rain and safety car could mix things up dramatically so we are in for an exciting finale. I think Hamilton to some extent had become disillusioned with under performing cars that he began to lose focus such that when the car did improved he was not really in the groove to take advantage, which is precisely what Button did being fresher to the team. Next year if Hamilton is fully recoverd which I suspect he will be, he will once again lead from the front. A bigger question though is can McLaren design and build a front running car when the bar will be set so high by Red Bull.

  22. One lunger says:

    As long as he keeps believing RBR have the better car, then he’s already beat.

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