Friday 18th July 2008
Lewis Hamilton may exude a cool persona moments before the start of every grand prix but he has conceded to suffering pre-race nerves.
Hamilton admits to playing out in his mind numerous scenarios once the five red lights disappear to signal a frantic run down towards the first corner.
But it is the kind of adrenaline rush that drives on Hamilton as he bids to become Formula One World Champion this year.
"Well, I'm human," smiled Hamilton, quashing the thought he would have ice running through his veins in the race build-up.
"There are nerves, but not the kind thinking I might fail. They are of excitement, with the adrenaline pumping.
"It's about whether I will get the start perfect; what will happen in the first corner, because it's an unknown. You've no clue.
"It's a question of: do I go left or right?; do I brake early or late?; do I get hit from behind?; do I get a flat tyre?
"There are so many questions, and that's the exciting thing about it.
"With the nerves it's about how I control them, control that energy and try and maintain it through the race, and that's always a key.
"But when I talk about nerves, I can tell you I've had them since I started racing, and it is the same before every race.
"I have that same excitement and, as long as I have that, then I will keep doing what I'm doing.
"If it ever goes, then...."
That was Hamilton stopping just short of saying he would quit if he felt nothing ahead of a race.
At present, he concedes there is no way to exercise control of his nerves.
It is a surprise to himself he has not found a way to combat what might be perceived as a problem by some, but then he does not see it that way.
"I don't think there is a way to control them," added Hamilton ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
"It's just the way your body is. It is a state of mind, and I have no methods or solutions to deal with it.
"I've never been trained on it and I don't feel the need. It is just an exciting part of motor racing and being a racing driver.
"I would have thought by now I would have a regime and a mindset but then I know how to get into the zone.
"Every time there is a different gut feeling, a different emotion, a different nerve."
Hamilton certainly conquered his nerves in the British Grand Prix 12 days ago, storming to victory to set up a three-way tie for the lead alongside Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, although he is ahead on countback.
The 23-year-old at least heads into the weekend with one victory under his belt in Germany after beating team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in a music quiz hosted by team sponsors Vodafone on Thursday.
Matching segments of music to artists in what was a test of memory, Hamilton was forced to come from behind as Kovalainen took an early 2-0 lead, only for the Finn to lose 6-2.