Lewis Hamilton has again attempted to diffuse speculation that he may be poised to quit the McLaren team should either next week's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing go against it, or its form not pick up in coming races.
While the team has struggled to get its MP4-24 on the pace in the opening three rounds of the season, more pressing is its engagement with the WMSC on 29 April to discuss the allegations of 'deliberately misleading the stewards' that arose from the Australian Grand Prix. The governing body has the power to sanction McLaren for the matter - which has seen Dave Ryan fired and new team principal Martin Whitmarsh write to the FIA accepting responsibility for the decisions taken in Melbourne - and could even see the Woking team suspended from the world championship.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has been absolved of any involvement - a move not universally welcomed - following a tearful press conference ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, but has been rumoured to be falling out of love with the team that gave him his F1 break.
"I don't abandon my team when times get tough," he retorted to continuous questioning on the matter, "We ride the bad and the good times together, I am happy where I am, we've got a long way to go and, hopefully, I've got a long, long time here with them. I am looking forward to it."
Hamilton has just four points from three races this season, having been stripped of those he earned in Melbourne, and shares seventh place in the standings with, among others, current team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and former McLaren nemesis Fernando Alonso, but insists that he is determined to get the Woking operation back to the front of the field.
"My job is to drive the team forward, and keep doing a good job, and that's what I'm trying to do," he told journalists after practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, "We have a goal, a target and, whilst we work towards that target, there are no distractions. We're just focusing on the car, our programmes and what we're doing - and I'm enjoying it.
"For sure, the other guys are quite a bit ahead, but I guess anything can happen in 14 races, so we remain optimistic. We will just keep doing the best job we can and, if we can catch up, we catch up. If not, then we will do the best job we can and focus on next season."