Lewis Hamilton has again insisted that he is not focused on finishing as runner-up to Sebastian Vettel in this year's F1 world championship, claiming that there are smaller prizes to be taken between now and the final chequered flag at Interlagos.
The Briton, speaking to journalists on the eve of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, admitted that, with the title race already settled in Vettel's favour, he was taking each race on its merits, looking to the minutiae of the weekend as he attempts to build on the return to form he showed in Korea two weeks ago. After a turbulent campaign on and off track, Hamilton finally ended Red Bull's pole streak in qualifying at Yeongam before going on to claim his first podium finish since Germany as he finished second to Vettel.
"The most important thing for me at the moment is to get a good lap together," the McLaren driver insisted, "For me, it doesn't matter whether I am second, third or fourth [in the championship], it makes no difference. For me, winning is everything. Other than that, you are just first or second of the losers. For me, at the moment, I am trying to put things back up, put the puzzles back in place and correct all the little issues there are to get some good results."
Hamilton admitted that while it was good to be back in the spotlight for the right reasons in Korea, the pole and second place did little to change the overall picture of his season, which has seen the Briton dogged by indifferent performances, too many on-track incidents and, in the past couple of weeks, both the end of his relationship with singer Nicole Scherzinger and the death of friend Dan Wheldon in the IndyCar finale.
"It has been a couple of tough weeks, but I don't feel that so much has changed," Hamilton commented, "It feels good to be back on the podium, but this was only one race compared to a year of ups and downs. It really has been one of the worst years. Actually, it has been the worst year so far. If you can imagine, people passing away, I have had some issues in racing and then my personal life as well. I am looking forward to next year that is for sure."
The Briton was particularly upset that he had not had the chance to catch up with Wheldon before the fatal accident that claimed his countryman at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weekends ago.
"Looking back, I wish I had said things to him when I had the chance to do so," he admitted, "It put things into perspective, and lets you think about the people that are closest to you - thinking of my mum and dad, and giving them a call and making sure that they know how much they mean to you and that you love them, as you don't know what is going to happen."
Despite all that has gone on, however, Hamilton insisted that it was business as usual in India and for the rest of the season.
"I am sure that everyone in the world knows how tough this can be," he said, "Still, I was able to do my job before, and I will be able to do it now."