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Hamilton: I'm a better driver for all the knocks

Whilst having suggested that he is still not completely out of the frame when it comes to successfully defending his hard-fought Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship crown in 2009 [see separate story – click here], it is clear that Lewis Hamilton now has his sights firmly set on a renewed bid for glory in 2010 – adhering to the age-old adage that what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.

Though things have improved substantially of late – to the extent that Hamilton was able to triumph in Hungary and mount the second step of the rostrum in Valencia, after setting pole position in the Spanish city to boot – over the first half of the campaign the performance of McLaren-Mercedes' MP4-24 was so abject that the British star tallied just nine points from the opening nine races. At the same stage in 2007 and 2008, he counted respectively 70 and 48.

If these experiences are character-building, though, the Stevenage-born ace looks set to enter next season in fine form indeed – and Hamilton is adamant that he is a better person for all of the lows he and McLaren have endured this year, from back-of-the-grid ignominy to the turmoil of the Melbourne 'lies' scandal. Next year, he assures, will be different.

“I think as a team we've learnt a huge amount from the big, big knocks we've had over the three years,” the 24-year-old told Crash.net Radio of his time spent with the Woking-based outfit in the top flight to-date. “They've all been trying and testing of all of our spirits mentally, but we've grown stronger as a team and we've grown closer. For me as a driver, dealing with the media, dealing with the fans, the way I approach things and the way I come across has definitely improved I think.”

“Every experience you have as a person – not just in motor racing, but whatever it is – you learn from the hard knocks and it builds you and makes you stronger for sure. I couldn't stand here and tell you how I'm stronger; you'll just see it in the future with other races we do, and hopefully when we get a good car you'll see the results. I hope we can win the world championship next year – both titles.”

Returning his focus to the job in-hand, meanwhile, the ten-time grand prix-winner would patently love to add to that victory tally over the remaining five races of 2009 – and he believes he has a genuine chance of doing so. Praising the workforce back in the factory for their tireless behind-the-scenes labour, he asserted that he intends to pay them back with interest – in terms of on-track success.

“I'm generally able to get [to the factory] once every two weeks at least,” he told BBC Radio Surrey, “but the great thing is that they're always pushing and always working as hard as they can and they never give up. They know that when they give me the car I'll do the job for them and vice versa. We've still got a long way to go, but it's great to finally be back up there and able to challenge for wins, and I hope we can continue to do that for the rest of the year.”

by Russell Atkins

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