Lewis Hamilton has vowed to bounce back from the malaise that has gripped his 2011 F1 campaign, acknowledging that he is not the only leading sports figure to suffer a loss of form and fortune.
The Briton looks set to finish a lowly fifth in the championship standings unless he can turn his game around over the final four races of the season, and has hit the headlines more for a combination of on-track clashes and emotional outbursts in interviews than for the two wins he has taken in China and Germany.
Hamilton has not appeared on the podium since coming out on top at the Nurburgring, while McLaren
team-mate Jenson Button
has figured in the top three in each of the five races since retiring in Germany, and the 2008 world champion admits that he needs to get his head together before he can bounce back and challenge not only Button, but also the likes of Sebastian Vettel
and Fernando Alonso, next season.
"It will take a lot to recover from the difficulties that I've had this year," Hamilton conceded to journalists ahead of this weekend's Korean Grand Prix, "I'm my own biggest critic and very hard on myself, but I have huge belief in my abilities. It's about driving, it's about where you are in your head, it's about a combination of things [and] I've just not been doing the job."
While acknowledging that Suzuka had been a personal low in performance terms, Hamilton also admitted that there were other races that had got away from him in 2011, even without addressing the incidents with Pastor Maldonado
and Felipe Massa, amongst others, that have marked his year as the poorest in his F1 career.
"In Spa, I got caught out - I should have finished on the podium and didn't - and, in Hungary, I was [leading the race] and spun [when] I could have won the race," he reflected, "It is just human error and you can't do too much other than learn from those things. I still keep pushing regardless of how many blows I take. I try and stand up by not giving up, no matter how tough it gets in racing. You just keep going and, some day, I will be successful again."
Denying that his off-track life has anything to do with his drop in form, Hamilton insists that he is not the first high-profile sportsman to go through a fallow period.
"Not winning and not finishing races when I should do, that's the issue," he said, "It's a streak. Every sportsman at the top eventually goes through this. There are sportsmen in the past who have had similar issues with performance. I am not alone, which is a positive.
"When things go badly, they get worse, just like dominoes. It definitely seems to be quite a steep cliff I have fallen off, but that's the way is. That's the hand of cards I have been dealt and I will try to deal with that the best way I can. At some stage, it will stop and things will get better. I will keep pushing and bouncing back until it happens. In the last five races, I have only ever blamed myself. I have always felt that, in myself, if I make a mistake, I will be the first to put my hand and apologise. I have never once got out and said 'that's your fault'."