Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lewis: I will not abandon my team

Friday 24th April 2009

Lewis Hamilton believes that as World Champion it is now time for him to stand up and be counted.

Just seven days after a tense, edgy, inhibited press gathering at the back of the McLaren garage in Shanghai, Hamilton was a little more positive, more lucid in Bahrain.

There were still no direct questions to be asked pertaining to the 'lie-gate' hearing due to take place in front of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday.

Instead, there was a skirting around the edges of a subject which has tainted the team, with queries about his feelings and focus following one of the most turbulent periods of his career.

The 24-year-old was still guarded at times, but then feeling more at ease at others to suggest he was now stronger and had learned from the experience, or 'personal trauma' as it was put to him.

"Your words. It's just one of those tough times," said Hamilton.

"I'm working hard to put it behind me, and as every day goes by I'm feeling better and better and more prepared.

"I definitely feel stronger and far more experienced after what has happened over the past few weeks.

"I am growing all the time, learning. When I met Nelson Mandela he said at 90 years old he is still learning, so I know I am going to continue learning every day of my life.

"As for the guys within the team, the great thing is they are still very enthusiastic, and working harder than ever. They seem even better than they ever have been."

There was a terse "he's got a right to his own opinion" response when it was put to Hamilton that Stirling Moss recently remarked on how let down he felt by the actions of the 24-year-old.

In China, there was also furious conjecture that followed a tame reply to questions about his long-term future with the team.

With rumours flying of a rift between himself, his father Anthony and the McLaren hierarchy, Hamilton hardly nailed his colours to the mast when pressed on the subject seven days ago.

A week on, and there was no doubting his commitment as he spelled out his desire to be the world champion he is, to drive the team, now and into the future.

"I thought it was just a silly question (in China)," reprimanded Hamilton.

"I'm here, I'm enjoying myself and my time at the team. I don't abandon my team when times get tough.

"We ride the bad and good times together, so I am happy where I am.

"We've a long way to go, and hopefully I've got a long, long time here with them, so I am looking forward to it."

When it was put to Hamilton that as world champion it was time for him to stand up and be counted, to be that strong driver, his answer was unequivocal.

"Definitely. It's a good challenge, and I definitely feel I am up for it," replied the Briton.

"Literally, my job is to drive the team forward, to keep doing a good job, and that's what I'm trying to do.

"We have a goal, a target, and whilst we work towards that target, there are no distractions."

So now onto Sunday's race, and a positive start in practice as he finished with the fourth fastest time overall following the two 90 -minute sessions at the Sakhir circuit.

Underlining his positivity, Hamilton is adamant that despite a slow start and the fact he trails leader Jenson Button by 17 points in the standings, he is far from giving up on retaining his crown.

"I think it (the title) is still on, and although the other guys are quite a bit ahead, I guess anything can happen in 14 races," remarked Hamilton.

"We remain optimistic and we will just keep doing the best job we can. If we can catch up, we catch up. If not then we will focus on next season."

Hamilton conceded his day was "consistent and constructive" which was enough to encourage the team ahead of a race which may yet be hit by a sandstorm, known locally as a shamal.

He added: "For Sunday, top five would be great - that would be our wish."

Source : Planet F1

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