Defending Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he is not a 'superhuman, just a normal guy' after returning to the scene of one of his most famous and impressive grand prix triumphs in Monaco this weekend – and he confessed that 'the paddock feels a little bit empty' without his long-time mentor Ron Dennis.
Having endured one of the most thankless weekends of his short career in the top flight in Barcelona a fortnight ago – around a circuit that, by dint of its many high-speed corners, really exposed the inherent weaknesses of McLaren-Mercedes' aerodynamically poor MP4-24 – Hamilton has admitted to being 'encouraged' at the form the multiple world championship-winning outfit has displayed around the narrow, tortuous streets of the fabled Principality so far, after lapping consistently inside the top three throughout the opening day of practice.
Just a week on from having revealed his distaste for the prevalence of politics in F1 and how they have taken away much of the enjoyment of competition for him, the 24-year-old has acknowledged that just one lap around Monte Carlo 'reminds me how much I love this sport, why I love racing and why I love Formula 1' [see separate story – click here
Not for the first time this season, Hamilton – caught up in the infamous Melbourne 'lies' scandal that threatened to tear his reputation to shreds and precipitated a spectacular fall from grace – has opened up his heart to the world's media, arguing that whilst he has come out of the damaging episode stronger for it, he is no 'superhuman'.
“I wouldn't say I am revitalised,” the nine-time grand prix-winner is quoted as having said by British newspaper the Daily Mirror
, “but I am encouraged by what happened on the track. As soon as I saw a couple of corners I got that feeling inside me that I can't wait to get out there again. Monaco is such a special place; I knew it wasn't going to be in a winning car still, but it was very encouraging.
“People look at me and see a superstar and expect someone superhuman, [but] I'm just a normal guy. I have to be able to analyse things so I don't make the same mistakes.”
Arguably the highest-profile sacrificial lamb to the slaughter over the unsavoury Albert Park incident was Dennis, who held the role of team principal at the Woking-based concern from 1981 until earlier this year, stepping down shortly prior to the start of the season and not long afterwards relinquishing any association with McLaren's F1 effort altogether – in what has been suggested was an effort to ensure the team an easier ride in front of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council. Hamilton acknowledged that the absence of the man who had nurtured his career since the age of just ten was a noticeable one.
“I miss Ron,” confessed the Stevenage-born ace. “I miss having him around. The paddock feels a little bit empty without him here.”