Lewis Hamilton has confessed that F1 2011 'feels like it's been a worse year than I've had previously' during his top flight career and admits that he has made himself 'an easy target because I'm always in trouble' – but he has vowed to give the media 'something good to write about me' between now and season's end.
There have undoubtedly been moments of pure, unadulterated brilliance from Hamilton in 2011, with his triumphs in Shanghai and at the Nürburgring amongst the finest he has ever produced – but there have by the same token been rather more moments of impetuosity, over-aggression and simple errors of judgement that have cost the 2008 world champion a good many points, and with them, arguably, all chance of fighting for the crown again this year.
McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button has quipped that Hamilton should apply for 'a loyalty card' with FIA stewards given the number of times he has appeared in front of them this year following run-ins with rivals – and, indeed, he arrived at Monza for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix under something of a cloud following collisions with both Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi at Spa-Francorchamps a fortnight ago. In a race that he has never won, he is well aware that he needs to get his faltering campaign firmly back on-track.
“It feels like it's been a worse year than I've had previously,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport
. “I'm an easy target because I'm always in trouble. [The coming-together with Kobayashi in Belgium] was just a mistake, but it wasn't because I was being aggressive. People blame it on aggressive driving, but it had nothing to do with that – I didn't even know he was there. I'll continue to drive the way I do; I'll just do my hardest to stay out of trouble. I'll give people extra, extra room.”
Hamilton has since reflected that he might have been momentarily knocked unconscious upon hitting the wall at Spa, with on-board television pictures having shown no movement inside the cockpit of his McLaren for some 15 seconds after the initial impact.
“I don't really remember much from hitting the wall, so it's potentially possible I was out for a couple of seconds, but I'm not really sure,” he told SPEED.com
. “I don't remember the whole hitting the wall and how I got to where I was. I remember going into the corner, or trying to go into the corner and getting hooked, but after that, a bit blurry.
“I hit it quite hard. I was doing 200mph or whatever it was at the end of the straight. There wasn't much slowing-down time between hitting him (Kobayashi) and into the wall. It was directly into the wall, so I hit it with a lot of force.
“When the incident happens, there are doubts in your mind whether it was your fault, whether or not you were hit. I didn't really know what [had] happened, I just knew I'd been hit – but I was still doubtful whether or not it was my fault. After I'd left, they sent me some information and a video clip. Immediately, I knew it was my fault. I was pretty upset with it, but it was important to set the record straight and apologise to Kamui and the team.”
It has been noted that controversy similarly marred Hamilton's title-winning campaign three years ago – rear-ending Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the Montreal pit-lane and being demoted from first to third at Spa for having cut the chicane to pass the Finn amongst the most memorable moments – but the British star points out that the difference is, back then, when he wasn't crashing, he was at least winning.