Lewis Hamilton has claimed that he doesn't suffer nightmares recalling how last year's Formula One world championship slipped out of his grasp, even though he is heading into the final two races of 2008 in a remarkably similar situation.

This time last year, the Briton - then a rookie riding a wave of success with the McLaren team - arrived at the penultimate round of the season with a twelve-point advantage over closest rival - and team-mate - Fernando Alonso and 17 points in hand over third-placed Kimi Raikkonen, having produced a wet-weather masterclass at Fuji. However, a mistake entering the pits on worn tyres in tricky conditions saw the McLaren end up beached in the gravel and, with Raikkonen leading Alonso across the line, the battle went on to Interlagos - where, of course, Raikkonen completed an unexpected comeback to snatch the title by a single point.

Fast forward twelve months and Hamilton, now undisputed McLaren team leader despite being in only his second year of F1, arrives at the penultimate round of the season with a diminishing five-point advantage over Ferrari's Felipe Massa, with outsider Robert Kubica just a dozen points adrift thanks to the consistency of his results with BMW Sauber.

Hamilton's recent performances, however, have had a degree of d?j? vu about them - with an unfathomable mistake over tyres seeing him exit Italian GP qualifying in phase two, a narrow escape from a similar fate in Singapore being followed by a bad break courtesy of the safety car and, finally, an error borne out of impetuosity in Japan contriving to limit his points haul - prompting former champions to suggest that he needs to regain his focus if he is to prevent the title going elsewhere again.

The Briton, however, remains positive, and insists that he does not replay images of last year's Shanghai gaffe when reflecting on this year's situation.

"Sometimes, I've been on YouTube and seen a video clip or a picture of me in the gravel and thought 'Damn! That shouldn't have happened', but it was a learning mistake," he claimed, "I can still move forwards from it. Things like that happen for a reason and it taught me a lot. In fact, last year, the last couple of races taught me a lot about my personality and my life - and I'm stronger for it."

Last year's Chinese Grand Prix was blighted by mixed weather conditions, and the forecast for this weekend suggest more of the same, but Hamilton is confident that he can produce whatever the conditions.

"I've said before that I don't mind racing in the wet or the dry," he pointed out, "Of course, it's safer in the dry, and I guess those are the conditions that racing drivers prefer. But, having said that, I would just prefer it if the weather wasn't too changeable during the weekend.

"When the track starts drying out, or it starts raining during the race, that is when things become a real lottery. At this stage in the season, you need things to be as reliable as possible for you."

Mercedes' Norbert Haug admits that just such conditions led to the indecisiveness that caused Hamilton's downfall a year ago, turning a potential championship-clinching drive into one that set-up an ultimately fruitless showdown in Brazil.

"Last year's race was indeed one of the worst for all in the team," the burly German confessed, "Lewis had been dominant in the opening stages, but we made a wrong call bringing him in for a tyre change. it was a race we should have won but didn't - and that was our mistake, not Lewis'.

"But that's history. After a difficult race at Fuji, Lewis is still five points ahead in the championship, so he and the team have it in their hands to get the job done in the final two races."

Hamilton's antics in the Japanese Grand Prix won't have helped the nerves in Woking and Stuttgart, however, with his rash first corner passing attempt not only allowing others to lead, but also drawing a penalty and putting the Briton in position to be spun by title rival Massa.

"With our results in qualifying, of course, we all wanted to win this year's race," Haug said of Hamilton's apparent desire to take the title from the front, "Without the incident with Massa - which put him to the very back of the field - Lewis still could have had a decent finish in the points.

"An engine failure finished Heikki [Kovalainen]'s race and his chances to win, so it was a bad weekend for all of us. But we put these results behind us and will now be fully focused on the Chinese and Brazilian grands prix. Massa made one point on the track and got another one as a result of Bourdais' penalty, so he did not benefit too much...."