Lewis Hamilton has revealed that now that he has finished 'kicking himself' and berating the mistake that saw him crash out of the Italian Grand Prix on only the opening lap at Monza – in so doing surrendering his world championship lead – he is fully focussed on 'bouncing back' into contention for the crown by repeating his victory from last year in Singapore, arguing that being able to pick yourself up from the lows will be pivotal to the destiny of the F1 2010 laurels.
In the midst of a fraught title battle for the third time in his four seasons in F1 to-date, Hamilton entered the Monza weekend holding a slender three-point advantage over Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber and a handy 31-point margin over anybody else, and firmly installed as the pre-race favourite with the legendary Autodromo's long straights widely-tipped to suit the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 right down to the ground.
He left again, however, as the hunter rather than the hunted, having tallied zero points, having ceded his lead to Webber and with race-winner Fernando Alonso, the second Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and his own team-mate and world championship-winning successor Jenson Button all having closed to within 19 points of him.
The British star has already held his hands up to the error that left him with broken steering from trying to pull off an over-ambitious move on the third-placed Ferrari of Felipe Massa less than a minute after the starting lights had gone out in Italy [see separate story – click here
] – but having now had time to mull over the incident and the resultant disappointment of notching up his second DNF in just three races, the 25-year-old is looking forwards rather than back and insists he is determined to take away the positives from Monza rather than dwelling on the negatives.
“Of course, you always kick yourself when you make a mistake,” he told Reuters
, reflecting on his initially downbeat assessment of the weekend and admitting that being more mature now than he was a couple of years ago, he is able to put the situation more into context. “You kick yourself more than anyone can kick you, regardless of if your boss comes up to you and says 'well, we're all disappointed but...this is motor racing and you're still great, blah blah blah...' Regardless of that, you still kick yourself hard. It's just the way some people deal with it, and that's how I deal with it.
“I feel I'm better-equipped now to deal with something like this than perhaps was the case a few years ago. Of course, it's mistakes like the one I made that can be the deciding factor in world championships, win or lose – but it's also how you carry yourself, how you pick yourself up, how you recover and how you bounce back that determines, shapes a world champion. If I hadn't done what I did [at Monza], I probably wouldn't be who I am. That's me. I do push and that's me as a racing driver, that's how I do it. I hope it's with these experiences that I continue to grow and improve.
“If going into the race you had said I wouldn't finish but I would be in this [championship] position, I wouldn't have believed it. I'm obviously very fortunate everyone didn't score the best. We're still in a fighting position, so we could afford one mistake. I'm still looking ahead – I always want to go forwards; I never want to make steps backwards. In this race I didn't step back, I just didn't step anywhere. It's not often I don't make steps forwards, but I can't always get it right.
“In terms of my own experience, I've suffered the lowest of the low and enjoyed the highest of the high – I've been to both ends of the spectrum and learned from different situations. In 2007 I made a lot more mistakes, and although I've grown a lot, I've still many more to make – but I believe that to this point I'm a much more whole and solid driver than in 2007 and 2008.
“I've not been in this position before where so many drivers have been in the hunt. It's the most intense competition I've ever experienced, and I love it. I'm racing against Mark, who has great experience, and two world champions, so I expect nothing but the best from them. Therefore I have to be at my best. I know everything that we have coming, I know things that we've been working on and I'm very hopeful and optimistic that they will work well. There are so many points available, and for me the gap is nothing, we're all equal. That's my approach, that I still need to get as many points as I can.”