Hamilton: I feel very free of the burdens I had last year

Lewis Hamilton speaks to reporters during the McLaren MP4-27 launch

Lewis Hamilton speaks to reporters during the McLaren MP4-27 launch

Feb.2 (Reuters) If Lewis Hamilton was his own worst enemy at times last year, the McLaren driver assured the world on Wednesday that he would be starting the new Formula One season very much at ease with himself again.

“I think it was just a fantastic winter where I got to spend time with friends and family and really was able to wind down,” said the 27-year-old, who complained last year about feeling burnt out.

“I let loose for the first week where I did a bit of skiing and then I ate pancakes and all that stuff that I said I wasn’t going to do,” he told Reuters after the launch of the new MP4-27 car at the Woking factory.

“I then got into quite an intense training regime and sat down in between times where I analysed the year and certain things in my personal life which weren’t as good as they could be and went about correcting those things. Today I just feel very fresh in my mind and very free of perhaps any of the burdens that I had on me last year.”

Hamilton’s 2011 season was punctuated by crashes and collisions, mostly with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, and his on/off/on again relationship with American pop singer Nicole Scherzinger.

He said he was now fully focused on the job of being a grand prix driver, “What I have decided to do this year is just focus on the most important thing and that’s racing.”

“Of course I accept that my personal life is in the domain but I’d rather just focus on racing. But things are good. So I’m happy.”

Hamilton won three races last season but was beaten by Jenson Button, the first team mate who has ever finished a campaign ahead of him overall.

Despite that fact, bookmakers have already established Hamilton as 5/1 joint second favourite for the title along with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel but ahead of Button on 7/1.

“I want to win every race. I think I can,” he said of the season that starts in Melbourne on March 18. I think I’ve got the ability to. I think if the car is where we hope the car is, there’s no reason why we can’t do that.

“The only thing that ever gets in your way is your own mind and your own insecurities or obstacles that you put in your way. But I think the most important thing is to put those things aside and to overcome them and I think I have.

“Standing right in front of you I feel stronger than I was a few months ago particularly, but even more so than I was last year at the start of the year,” he said.

Hamilton’s McLaren contract expires at the end of the season, but he said he would aim to clear that up as soon as possible to calm paddock speculation.

“That’s going to be a big topic,” he recognised. “At the moment the focus is just on the preparation we have coming up for the season.”

“I think probably after the first couple of races it’s something we will probably want to get out of the way so we can focus on the rest of the year without the team being concerned and without it being something that’s just hanging around for us so then you guys won’t be having to ask questions about it.”