Lewis Hamilton has again vowed that he will be keeping his attention firmly on F1 this season, as he looks to bounce back from a troubled 2011 and re-establish himself as McLaren's premier title threat.
Although the Briton started stronger than team-mate Jenson Button last year, his championship challenge suffered a mid-season slump as problems in his private life caused the 2008 champion to take his eye off the ball. Unnecessary incidents, repeated trips to the stewards' office and unwarranted outbursts characterised the period, and contributed to Hamilton finishing the year in a lowly fifth place, well behind Buttonb, who became the first team-mate to beat Hamilton in the top flight.
Although the split with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger appears to have been healed over the winter, Hamilton insists that there will be no repeat of 2011, pledging that the coming season will represent a chance to start over.
"I feel great," he told the BBC
on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, "I'm very happy to be here [and] I'm excited for the new season - it's a fresh start. I've just got to keep my head down and stay focused on one goal."
With one year remaining on his current McLaren contract, there will undoubtedly be speculation over his future, but Hamilton acknowledges the envious position he is in when it comes to work.
"I still feel quite privileged to be here in F1," he accepted, " I'm 27 years old, it's my sixth year in F1, but I'm still one of the few people in the world who gets to do this job. I'm constantly having to pinch myself that I'm still able to be here. I'm very happy. I'm in a good place."