Following months of paddock speculation and rebuffed rumours, it has finally been officially confirmed that 2008 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has separated from his Pussycat Doll girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger after just under two years together.

The McLaren-Mercedes star and Scherzinger began dating six months after meeting at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Munich in November, 2007. The Hawaii-born singer has frequently supported Hamilton at grands prix since then, celebrating at his side when he lifted the drivers' laurels in dramatic fashion at Interlagos in Brazil in late 2008, and even being taken for a spin around his hometown of Stevenage shortly afterwards.

However, the couple had been dogged by persistent speculation of late that a split was on the cards, ostensibly because at just 25, Hamilton has no desire to settle down just yet. At 31, Scherzinger - who joined the Pussycat Dolls in 2003 - is six years his senior.

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Moreover, it is understood that the long-distance nature of the relationship - with Hamilton based in Switzerland and Scherzinger in Los Angeles in the States - was beginning to take its toll, and in a joint statement published by the BBC, the pair have revealed their decision to part in order to put their respective careers first.

'Nicole Scherzinger and Lewis Hamilton can confirm that they have decided to go their separate ways,' the statement read. 'The two of them have decided to focus fully on their careers and will remain close friends.'