Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has admitted that driving for points rather than going all-out for race-winning glory was against his nature in last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix – but with his focus on the greater prize, he knows that is what he now has to do.
After taking the chequered flag third in the Far Eastern city-state, the McLaren-Mercedes star opened up a seven-point advantage over non-scoring Ferrari title rival Felipe Massa in the championship standings, with just 30 left to be claimed.
That means he can afford to finish one place behind the Brazilian in each of the remaining three grands prix and still be crowned – something he admits was at the forefront of his mind both during the 24 laps he spent tucked up in the dirty air of the Red Bull Racing of David Coulthard, and as he debated whether or not to risk a passing manoeuvre on close friend Nico Rosberg's Williams in the closing laps around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
“You always tell yourself to be consistent and avoid any unnecessary mistakes,” the eight-time grand prix-winner admitted, “but it is one thing to think it and another to do it.
“Once you get in the car it can be hard to stop the instincts you've been developing since you were eight-years-old, but I think Singapore was a good learning experience. There was less pressure to achieve a victory because of the unusual circumstances, which meant I was actually able to start thinking about the world championship.
“I hate driving for points, but I think we can all see the benefit of that approach at the moment.”
Having learned to better control his naturally competitive and combative nature in Singapore, the Stevenage-born ace now travels to Fuji for the Japanese Grand Prix, a race he consummately dominated last year in some of the worst weather conditions ever seen in the sport's history.
Twelve months on, though, he would do well to learn a salutary lesson from James Hunt, who settled for third place around the circuit in the foothills of Mount Fuji in similar monsoon-like conditions back in 1976 – and with it pipped Ferrari's Niki Lauda to the drivers' crown by just one point.
A year later at the same venue, the Englishman went on to claim the tenth and final success of his 92-race career in the top flight, with Hamilton making it back-to-back triumphs for the Woking-based outfit three decades on when the F1 circus finally and belatedly returned to Fuji Speedway.
“Wet or dry, I'm happy to race,” the 23-year-old reflected, well aware that all three of Fuji's grands prix to-date have been affected by inclement weather. “I don't mind, but it's always easier in the dry so I'd prefer that.