Boosted by his third victory of the season, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago, and a possible rekindling of his romance with singer Nicole Scherzinger, Lewis Hamilton is fired up for the final round of the 2011 F1 season in Brazil.
Speaking to Reuters
, the Briton reflected on the past few months as 'a season of growth', but insisted that he was in a more positive frame of mind heading to Interlagos, and hoping to end the campaign with another win to enter the winter on a high.
Hamilton shrugged off the fact that he is certain to finish behind McLaren team-mate Jenson Button in the end-of-year standings - the first time that he has been beaten on points by a team-mate since graduating to F1 in 2007 - and focused on the possibility that he could end the year with more victories than his fellow countryman, having pulled level with Button after dominating at Yas Marina last time out.
Despite the success, however, Hamilton revealed that he had not celebrated for too long, preferring instead to work on preparations for Brazil, as well as fitting in a visit to see Scherzinger in Los Angeles.
"I have not really thought about the last victory since the Wednesday afterwards," he confirmed, "I was just back in the simulator and thinking about this race. But I've had a few good really positive days since then, which have meant more to me than the race win, so I've got a lot of positive energy at the moment.
"I feel, coming into this weekend, that this is the beginning of the future. I feel the last race was the end [of the slump that has made headlines throughout most of 2011] and this is almost like the first race if the season - or at least this is the beginning of what's to come. My goal this weekend is to start on the right foot."
Hamilton added that he had been advised not to focus on the downside of 2011, rather to see the year as one in which he learned valuable lessons that he can carry with him into 2012 and beyond.
"I was talking to a friend just recently who is very wise and I said that it's been a very difficult year, [but] he said 'It's not been a difficult year, it's been a year of growth'," the Briton explained, "That was one of the most positive things that I have learned this year. It really has been a year where I've just grown and I've learned a lot and can take it to next year. I think, in the future, I'll look back on this season and smile and say that I needed that."
The 'positive days' that meant more to Hamilton than his race win in Abu Dhabi are thought to refer to the time he managed to spend with Scherzinger between races, despite the pair having announced their separation after the Japanese Grand Prix. Despite speculation that the American singer had been a distraction, the Briton insisted in Abu Dhabi that she he been a 'positive force' in his life prior to the split, and admitted that he still held hopes that the romance may be rekindled in future.
"We had a really good week," Hamilton claimed, "We had a couple of lunches and a really nice dinner together. It's very early days and we still have very strong feelings for one another. I still love her very much, so who knows? Maybe we will be together in the future."
Having donned a special helmet design for each of the past two races - the Bob Marley tribute in India and a sparkling variation of his usual lid to reflect the floodlights in Abu Dhabi - Hamilton will wear another prominently featuring the colours of his - and Brazil's - hero Ayrton Senna at Interlagos. The helmet will then be auctioned off by the Senna family's charitable foundation.