Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his renewed happiness both on and off the race track after a start to the season which has taken him back to the top of the world championship standings for the first time in nearly two years.
The tumultuous nature of Hamilton’s 2011 was well-documented with setbacks in both his racing and his private life contributing to his self-described worst year in Formula 1, but a productive winter allowed him the chance to re-focus and piece back together the ingredients he sees as being key to his personal equilibrium.
Speaking to the British media in China following his third successive third place finish on Sunday, he said: “I think just everything’s better this year. The team are better, the car is better and I’m a lot better. I’ve got my Dad here, you know, and that’s not fake. That’s real, a good bond we’ve got now and on the up. Things are great with my mum, things are great with my girlfriend, so things are great and that’s reflecting in my performances I think.”
The appearance of his dad Anthony in the McLaren garage during track sessions in Shanghai underlined the apparent reconciliation that has taken place between father and son over the winter, the pair having split professionally in 2010 when Lewis opted to take control of his own management decisions.
Although Hamilton has yet to take his first victory of 2012 despite claiming pole position for the first two races, the 27-year-old has been keen to focus on the positives of being the only driver to finish on the podium in every round so far. This is already in stark contract to last season when he failed to string back-to-back top-three finishes together at any point of the campaign despite having the second-fastest car.
McLaren’s step ahead of Red Bull also means he is likely to have his best chance since his first title in 2008 of winning the world championship again, although with just eight months remaining on his five-year deal with the Woking squad, he is insisting he doesn’t plan to rush into agreeing a new deal, even if he “could not be happier” at the team currently. He had said at the launch of its 2012 car in February that “probably after the first couple of races it’s something we will probably want to get out of the way”, but now appears to be putting a longer timeframe on the process.
He said: “I don’t need persuading. When I need to, which can be within any time frame I want so long as it is before next year, then I will decide about my future. But the team are doing fantastic. I could not be happier in the team.”