Sunday 22nd March 2009
Lewis Hamilton is ready to start the next chapter in his career after finally winning the World Championship last year.
After narrowly missing out on the Formula One title in his rookie season, the McLaren driver bounced back in 2008 to win the Championship in dramatic circumstances in the season finale in Brazil.
The 24-year-old admits it was a massive relief to win the title last year, but says his focus is now firmly on the 2009 World Championship.
"I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders," he told The Independent. "I want to win more, I want to be more consistent, though in 2007 nine podiums in my first nine races was pretty special.
"I am happy with what I have achieved, but now is the beginning of something new. Every year I have got better. I am already better than I was last year, physically, mentally, in terms of the balance in my life."
The Englishman admits it could be a lot tougher to win this year's title. McLaren's MP4-24 has been sluggish during winter testing.
"I am very appreciative that last year I had a great opportunity, a great car, and a great team who did a great job," he said.
"I am mindful that you can't do it all the time. Some win one, some win two or three. I don't know how many I am going to win, but I know that I am just as determined as ever before.
"Driving the car is going to be harder this year, with the new front wing and KERS controls. It's hugely challenging. But perhaps the pressure from the outside world will be easier. I love this sport. I love this job. It's so cool working for the best team in the world."
Hamilton has often been accused of being arrogant by his fellow driver - with 2008 Championship runner-up Felipe Massa claiming the entire field was rooting for during last year's title-decider at Interlagos because "I always respect everybody".
Although he concedes "everyone makes mistakes", Hamilton insists he is not arrogant.
"I never want to hear that kind of thing," he says. "I think you know I am not. I know what I am capable of, I know where I am, but what I do is take the criticism and try to understand why it's being said.
"Everyone makes mistakes, for sure, maybe there is a point where you have been arrogant and come across as arrogant. So I have to accept that. You have to accept it - you can't say everyone else is stupid. So you just have to deal with it."
Source : Planet F1