Lewis Hamilton has vowed to put his turbulent 2011 F1 season behind him and come back focused on reclaiming the world championship next year.
The Briton may have notched up two wins in a campaign dominated by Red Bull Racing, but has also suffered more than his fair share of incidents and visits to the stewards. Off-track, his life has been no easier, following the much publicised break-up of his relationship with singer Nicole Scherzinger and the deaths of Dan Wheldon, Christian Bakkerud and former mentor Martin Hines, and Hamilton admits that there have been too many distractions taking his attention away from F1.
"Life is like a puzzle," the 26-year old told the BBC
, "You just have to get things in place. F1 is a massively competitive sport where you have to have clear thoughts. You just have to live and breathe F1. There is no room for anything else. I plan to eliminate everything else, not my family, but anything that can be a distraction. That will be a start."
It was clear that there were other things on Hamilton's mind when he felt unable to celebrate his pole position - the only non-Red Bull pole of 2011 - in Korea, but Hamilton knows that he needs to keep a clear head when he is on track.
"That's the other [thing], in the race, just staying out of trouble," he conceded, "My season hasn't been the best of seasons, lots of ups and downs. I speak for myself [when I say] my driving, for me, has been the biggest hazard. I can improve, and that's what I'm working towards for next year. Staying out of the stewards' office is also a very big goal, top of my priorities for next year.
"We would have hoped to have had more pace consistently, but the team has done a fantastic job to get us into the position where we are the second fastest team. My qualifying has been pretty good [and], generally, I'm quite happy with my qualifying pace, particularly the last couple of races but, generally, the year, I feel, it's been quite good. The last race was a good stepping stone, so let's hope I continue on that path."
Hamilton posted the second fastest lap in qualifying for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, but will start from fifth after picking up another penalty during free practice.
"I am quite surprised that we were able to split the Red Bulls and it is great to be on the front row in terms of how we qualified," he insisted, "Of course, we had the penalty, which was a bit of a silly mistake from myself and I have paid the price but, from tomorrow, we have good race pace and it is a long race with two DRS zones, so overtaking should be a lot easier than perhaps other places. I am still optimistic regardless of where I start."