Maintaining focus will be the key for Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win a second world championship.
That is the claim of Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda who believes if the 2008 champion can continue the form he showed en route to a dominant win in Malaysia last weekend, he will be very hard to beat this year.
While there has never been any doubt over Hamilton’s ability as a racing driver, some have often wondered if the fame and the lifestyle that have come with his success in the sport have distracted him.
Certainly in his later McLaren years, as the team struggled to maintain a challenge to the dominant Red Bull’s, Hamilton’s concentration never seemed fully on the job in hand.
His then team-mate Jenson Button, who became the first driver to beat Hamilton in the same team over a season in 2011, also believed that while the 28-year-old is one of the quickest drivers on the grid he is ”very up and down emotionally”.
Indeed when asked Hamilton himself was quoted by motorsport.com as saying it Button’s claim was “quite accurate”.
Over Hamilton’s now seven-year career, the evidence does tend to back the theory that a stable Hamilton off the track is a very fast on it, after almost winning the championship in his first year in 2007, before doing so a year later.
Then as McLaren struggled to adjust to the new rules in 2009 the first cracks showed up as he ended the managerial relationship with his father Anthony Hamilton.
Further breaking up of long-time associations occurred as Hamilton fell out with McLaren Group CEO and the man who had helped mentor him since he was a teenager, Ron Dennis, and finally the Briton has had a roller-coaster relationship with pop star Nicole Scherzinger with the pair currently together.
Since his move to Mercedes at the start of last year, Hamilton has been able to express himself more bringing his now famous pet bulldog Roscoe to most races and taking part in other off-track activities.
Indeed talking to the Independent, the man from Stevenage revealed he is in as good a place now as he has been in a while.
“I’ve always talked about trying to put the right pieces in place to get through my year in a positive way without having those spikes, and I feel like I might have found it,” he said.
“But you never know!”
If that is true then it could be a warning to the rest of the F1 grid as triple world champion Niki Lauda told Swiss newspaper Blick: ”When Lewis is fully focused on his work, he is almost unbeatable.”
Certainly that claim could send a few waves just across the Silver Arrows’ garage to Hamilton’s team-mate and currently the biggest rival he has for the title this year, Nico Rosberg.
For a man who has ended other long-time friendships, the well documented history of Hamilton and Rosberg, which dates back to when the pair were team-mates in karting as youngsters, could be seen by some as another one waiting to implode over a battle for the F1 championship.
But Hamilton is keen to downplay how friendly the two are with each other: “In Formula One, we can count our friends on one hand,” he said. “Nico does not come in the five friends I have and I don’t come in his.”
Though Rosberg himself admits the battle for wins which could ultimately lead to the championship hasn’t affected their working partnership yet, but, further repeats of the margin Hamilton had over him in the race in Malaysia would certainly affect the psyche of the German.
Asked who he believed was the favourite of the two Mercedes drivers, Fernando Alonso told Spain’s AS: “I think it’s 50 per cent each way,” he claimed, “but there is also Kimi and myself and of course Vettel.”
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