Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he doesn't expect record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher to be noticeably stronger in 2011 than he was in 2010 – as he himself vowed not to change his famously uncompromising driving style regardless of whether circumstances require it.
Schumacher was far from the invincible force he had once been when he made his much-hyped return to the grid with Mercedes Grand Prix last season – finding himself routinely outpaced, outperformed and outscored by young team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg. Cue a number of raised eyebrows when Ferrari's Fernando Alonso mischievously pinpointed the German legend as his greatest threat this year [see separate story – click here
Whilst Jenson Button warns that it would be unwise in the extreme ever to write the 91-time grand prix-winner off, his own McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Hamilton does not seem to think he will have much to fear from 'Schumi' over the coming months.
“I think when Michael gets the car around him that he feels he has been a part of, he will be competitive,” Button mused. “With Ross [Brawn – team principal] at the helm, they'll produce a competitive car and give Nico and Michael a chance to have good results. They're definitely a team that will be fighting for victories this year.”
“He's a seven-time world champion, so you have to assume he will be at his best this year if he wants to be, and if his car and his team have done a good job,” reflected Hamilton, before adding: “Personally, I don't think it's going to be much different to the previous season, but he can easily prove us wrong.”
As to his own preparations, the 2008 F1 World Champion conceded that whilst his hard-charging, balls-out on-track manner might feasibly have cost him greater success during his fledgling top flight career to-date – with Shanghai, 2007 the most obvious example of paying the price for pushing just too
hard, an error that arguably lost him the crown in his maiden campaign – he will not be moderating his approach.
“I'd love to have won more races, more championships, especially that first year,” the 26-year-old confessed, in bullish spirits at the Berlin unveiling of McLaren's MP4-26 contender. “I look back and it's 'could have, should have, would have' – [but] I didn't get where I am today without driving this way. I've been able to win championships throughout my life, in every category I have ever competed in – and that's a lot of championships.
“There have been times when my driving style has not suited the car, the tyres or the tracks where I've raced – but I've always driven like this and always will. I'll always be the last to brake – it's how I am, that's what makes me who I am.”