Lewis Hamilton feels his growth and confidence to cope with the demands of Formula 1 fame and the press has helped him become a better driver on his way to clinching his third F1 world title.
The Mercedes driver says he's been able to let the emotions from Austin sink in having secured the F1 drivers' championship with his 10th victory of the year and has also been able to reflect on his ninth season in the sport.
Hamilton openly admits he struggled to adjust to the fame and attention he received after bursting on to the F1 scene in 2007 – finishing runner-up in his rookie campaign – but over time and changes he feels he's been able to grow and improve as a racing driver.
"I think quite a lot [has changed] really. I think a lot of growth,” Hamilton said in the F1 drivers' press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, where he will challenge for his 44th win of his F1 career. “A lot of movement around me of course: different teams; different management team; different people around me. But I guess just grown a lot and through those experiences, it's taken a long time, gone through the hard route.
“Before I got to Formula One I didn't have any preparation for media and for press conferences like this stuff, so I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. It took a long, long time to really acclimatise, firstly to that side of Formula One, but also the fame.”
Hamilton believes he is a better driver now than he was when he claimed his first F1 World Championship with McLaren in 2008 and boosts in confidence have enabled him to achieve greater things.
“I think being able to feel comfortable within yourself, come out of your shell a little bit more and be comfortable and sure in who you are,” he explained. “It's helped me drive better than ever today.
“Just over those years you learn more and more about racing so you hopefully improve. I definitely think as an all-round driver I should be better today. Well, I am better.”