Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he is sleeping 'with a bigger smile on [his] face' since clinching the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship crown in Brazil last weekend – as he revealed he had taken his Pussycat Doll girlfriend on a celebratory tour of his hometown of Stevenage following his success.
In pipping Ferrari adversary Felipe Massa to the drivers' laurels at the end of a nail-biting season finale at Interlagos, the McLaren-Mercedes star became – at just 23 years and 301 days of age – the youngest driver ever to claim international motorsport's greatest trophy, beating the previous record held by former team-mate and bitter rival Fernando Alonso by 122 days.
“I definitely sleep with a bigger smile on my face,” Hamilton is quoted as having said by international news agency Reuters
. “My life is progressing and getting better and I'm enjoying it more and more every day. I couldn't be happier.”
Following visits to both the McLaren factory in Woking and team sponsor Vodafone's headquarters in Newbury, the British ace took girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger on a late-night tour of the small Hertfordshire town in which he grew up – and where the local council reportedly intends to name a road after him in his honour.
Hamilton was keen to insist, however, that he had no intention of returning to live in the UK, despite having been criticised by Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell for his lack of 'patriotism' in his tax exile status in Switzerland.
“I have been back there just to see where it all started,” he confessed. “We went for a quick cruise, probably it was around half an hour drive through Stevenage – past my old church, past my old school and past my house and then off to the cinema and for a roast dinner that night.
“It was very special for me. I'm pretty sure no one expected me to be around, and that's why we probably didn't get seen.
“I'm not going to say I miss living here. My family and team are here and every once in a while I do get the chance to come back and visit the place, but I'm happy where I am.
“I don't know what the future holds for me or where I plan to live. I love being in the United States, being around in Europe and I love Australia. I don't know where I am going to be in ten years' time, but one thing's for sure – this is where I grew up and Britain will always be home.”
The nine-time grand prix-winner also acknowledged that he would be even 'busier' than before now in his new capacity as F1 World Champion – particularly with predecessors Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen having been criticised by the top flight's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone for respectively doing 'nothing' and 'barely talking to anyone' in terms of promoting the sport.
“As world champion I guess you pick up a lot more responsibility,” Hamilton mused, “so I can expect it to be busier.
“Keeping a low profile is a great thing. You get to live your life, have such a busy season and then quieten down a little bit, but I expect it to be busy. If it's quiet, that will be a bonus.”