Despite the stoic demeanour that he carried through the hard-fought 2010 F1 season, Lewis Hamilton has admitted that there were problems away from the track that meant that he wasn't as fully focused on the job at hand as he would have liked.
The Briton remained in the hunt for a second title - to add to his 2008 triumph with McLaren - through to the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but insists that he could have been more of a factor had he not had to deal with 'personal issues'.
Although his interview with the BBC's Radio One
station did not disclose the exact nature of his worries, there were several high profile stories surrounding the Briton, starting with his decision to ditch father Anthony as his manager - a situation still not resolved by the appointment of a replacement - the on-off nature of his relationship with Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Sherzinger at the start of the season, and the 'hoon' charges levelled at him during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
“The personal life, the way things have gone have not been as smooth and as happy as they could have been in the past and to do what I do is a combination of many, many things that are surrounding you,” Hamilton admitted.
“It's not just arriving at the race track and driving, it's your [personal and sponsor] appearances, it's your mood swings, it's the people that are around you – your family and your friends – and the time that you are able to give to them and the relationship that you have with them.
"As soon as some of those things are off, and you've not got all those pieces of the puzzle in place, then it makes it very hard to do other aspects of your life as easily. The key I think to life is getting all those pieces of the puzzle in place.”
Having gone into the Yas Marina finale needing a miracle to overturn the points deficit to Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton finished second on the road, but only fourth in the drivers' championship - having to watch as race winner Vettel also claimed his mantle as youngest-ever champion.
Although, ultimately, only 16 points separated the two young talents, Hamilton admitted that he was not happy with his overall placing.
“It's been a long time since I finished out of the top three in a championship,” he pointed out, “so finishing fourth is not something that I'm not particularly proud of.
“We had a couple of bad races, where I lost points which would have put me in a much stronger position to compete for the championship at the end of the year, [so] my plan right now is to smooth everything off and make sure that, next year, I am 100 per cent clear in my mind and have no outside intrusions mentally."
Hamilton was at the UK radio station to pick his top ten tunes of 2010 - a list the, perhaps unsurprisingly, contains girlfriend Scherzinger's debut solo single Poison
, which he watched her perform on a recent edition of The X Factor