x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Lewis Hamilton feels better than ever despite no victories yet

The leader of the drivers' championship believes he is a better driver following tough 2011.

Lewis Hamilton is upbeat despite having not won a race yet this season.
Lewis Hamilton is upbeat despite having not won a race yet this season.

SAKHIR // On an afternoon when Nico Rosberg laughed off the suggestion he could emulate his father Keke and win the world championship with only a single race win,Lewis Hamilton, the drivers standings leader, said he is delighted with his season so far, even though he is yet to win a race.

Hamilton, the McLaren-Mercedes driver, has started two of the year's three races on pole, but has slipped back to finish third each time. Yet with three different winners, in Australia, Malaysia and China, the 27-year-old Briton sits atop the championship standings, two points ahead of Jenson Button, his teammate.

"The target every year is to have consistency and some years it doesn't go to plan," said the 2008 world champion ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. "But this year I am fortunate to be on the podium at each of the three races, so it's fantastic."

Much has been made of Hamilton's positive start after he endured a tough year in 2011 that saw both his driving style and his attitude towards his peers questioned. He said yesterday that he feels he has developed substantially since his championship win and is coping better with the psychological side of racing.

"I definitely think that the last three years have added to where I am today," he said. "There have been a lot of lessons learnt and a lot of good and bad experiences, which of course definitely help you when you have a good car and when you're in a much better position.

"As like all athletes, you have to get your mind set in a certain way and there are many things that can affect that. For example, look at Tiger Woods: he's there and sometimes he's not and he's the best out there. It's really a massive mental game which is about trying to get your mind on the right path."

Rosberg, Mercedes-GP's German driver who competed alongside Hamilton in the junior series,last week secured his first F1 win, in Shanghai, and is being touted for a sustained challenge for the drivers title this year. His father won the world title in 1982, but the younger Rosberg is keeping his feet on the ground.

"The engineers and everybody have really been making some good progress on the car, set-up-wise and things like that," he said.

"So we're learning very quickly and it wasn't a coincidence that we were fast in Shanghai. But the situation could be different here with the temperatures and that might prove a little bit more of a challenge."