Former world champion Lewis Hamilton insists that his mistake in the Italian Grand Prix just over a week ago has now been banished firmly to the history books – and as he refuses to 'dwell on the negatives', the McLaren-Mercedes star asserts that the costly error will if anything only motivate him to 'raise his game' even further.
Hamilton conceded potentially valuable points at Monza when, from fifth on the starting grid and during the course of a characteristically feisty and aggressive opening lap around the legendary Autodromo, he attempted an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre on the third-placed Ferrari of Felipe Massa. When the Brazilian turned in, the resultant touch was enough to break the steering on the 2008 title-winner's MP4-25 – and put him out of the race a handful of corners later.
The DNF was also sufficient to cost the 25-year-old his erstwhile world championship lead, having entered the weekend tipped to dominate, with Monza the most likely of the six final circuits to play most prominently to the strengths of McLaren's challenger. In the immediate aftermath of his very public indiscretion, Hamilton expressed his fear that it is just such lapses that 'lose world championships' [see separate story – click here
] – but as he looks ahead to Singapore now, he does so with a far more measured and positive outlook.
“In bad situations, you soak up all the lessons that need learning,” he told his personal website. “You absorb that information, put the bad experiences to one side, use the benefits and move on. I got up on the Monday morning [after the Italian Grand Prix] and I was already focussed on the next race, improving the car and closing in on the world championship.
“I've drawn a line under Monza now. It's one of those experiences that happens in motor racing. It's not the first time my race has ended on the first lap – and it probably won't be the last, unfortunately. You can't dwell on the negatives – we are still in a good position, and we need to capitalise on that. I've learnt from the experience and, while it was extremely disappointing, those things are sometimes what you need to sharpen your mind and raise your game and motivation at an extremely crucial time in the season.”
Arriving in Singapore, Hamilton lies five points adrift of new world championship leader Mark Webber, with the Australian's Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel, his own McLaren team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button and Ferrari's double world champion Fernando Alonso all within a victory of each other points-wise, and a thrilling climax to proceedings looking to be in-store.
It was the Stevenage-born ace who triumphed under the spotlights of Singapore this time last year, but with the tight and tortuous nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit widely expected to play right into the hands of Red Bull, Hamilton is maintaining an open mind ahead of the weekend.
“Winning in Singapore last year was one of the most satisfying victories of my F1 career,” he affirmed. “The whole team pushed for that result right from the start of the weekend, we overcame a number of problems and we never gave up until it was in the bag. Crossing the line was a brilliant feeling!
“It's difficult to say accurately how competitive we'll be in Singapore. If Monza most closely resembled a track like Canada, then Singapore is far closer to places like Monaco and Hungary, where we've struggled relative to the competition – but the engineers are positive that we've made some good progress, so I'm looking forward to getting out on-track and sampling the changes for real.
“I think we head into the weekend with renewed confidence following some positive tests and some developments in the wind tunnel. The race should give us a clearer indication of exactly where we stand as the championship closes down over the next five races, but I definitely want to score as many points as possible in this grand prix.”