Friday, October 10, 2008

Hamilton says he is stronger one year on

Lewis Hamilton says he is stronger, both physically and mentally, than ever and not about to blow his lead in the Formula One title race for a second year running.

The McLaren driver holds a seven-point advantage over Ferrari's Felipe Massa with three races left going into this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton was unbeatable in the rain at Fuji last year but the Briton then squandered his lead in the final two races in China and Brazil, allowing Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to close a 17 point gap and snatch the title.

No longer a rookie learning the ropes, the 23-year-old said he was wiser this time.

"I feel a lot different coming here compared to last year," he told reporters. "Last year I stayed in Asia for quite a long period of time.

"I was away for about five weeks. I was tired from being away. I didn't see my family and I didn't get back in touch with reality.

"Then you go to a race and you have to perform. I went back this time and recharged my batteries. I did my training and made sure I spent some quality time with my family."

Hamilton, winner of four races so far this year, added: "I came back here feeling fresh again. I feel just as good now as I did five months ago."

The Briton's hopes of making up for last year's late meltdown were boosted by a bizarre Singapore race two weeks ago.

A third-place finish for the championship leader came after Massa's hopes were dented by an embarrassing pitstop blunder, caused by a mechanic, which dropped the Brazilian from first to last and meant he finished 13th.

"I'm definitely in a much stronger position than I was last year," said Hamilton, bidding to become the sport's youngest champion.

"We not going out there to finish second. We're going out there to win the race but the most important thing is to finish in the points.

"I've not thought about the different scenarios. There's still 30 points to go. I'm just focusing on coming here to win. We just have to keep on pushing."

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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