Formula 1 World champion-elect Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he does not 'fear anyone' when it comes to his rivals – though he does admit Robert Kubica and former team-mate Fernando Alonso will likely provide him with his sternest competition in the years to come.
The McLaren-Mercedes star stands on the edge of becoming the sport's youngest-ever title-winner at Interlagos in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.
Though some have questioned his mental resolve, Hamilton insists that he is far more ready for the challenge that lies ahead of him than he was in São Paolo this time twelve months ago, when he let slip a seven-point advantage over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the season finale to ultimately, and agonisingly, miss out on the laurels by just a single marker at the end of a stunning debut campaign in the top flight.
"I remember last year, going into the final race, I was really on the back foot," the 23-year-old related in an interview with UK newspaper The Observer
. "[There was] so much pressure was on me. I felt the whole country, the whole world... I just felt this huge weight on my shoulders, and I went in and I made several mistakes, and we dropped back.
"This year, because I've experienced it, I'm much better-prepared. Yes, there are demands on my time – media, promotional work, training, testing, travelling, engineering work, racing – but I'm incredibly passionate about Formula 1 and they all form part of the best job in the world.
"Some sides of it I'm not that comfortable with, like the intrusion into your life, but it's part of the job and there's nothing that would make me not want to be doing this. I don't feel that I have to 'cope' with anything. I'm very fortunate to be where I am, and I don't let myself worry about things people might see as negative.
"You could spend your life looking back at things, thinking through what might have happened if you had taken a different decision, but I don't really understand the point in that. Why spend time looking back negatively when you could be living your life instead? What has been is done. I know I will always do the best I can at any given moment.
"What I learnt last season has really added to this season – all the problems I had last year, and all the good experiences too. This year, after times like Canada, I think I've learnt to take my time, not rush into things, not take too many risks, just do what is needed – giving 100 per cent and not 110 per cent."
Hamilton has made a point recently of increasingly including his family in his success, revealing that they are his true driving force – and the inspiration for the fiercely competitive streak that has spurred him on to no fewer than nine grand prix victories and 22 rostrum finishes from just 34 starts in the uppermost echelon.