Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he hopes that he turn the feelings of some sections of his 'home' crowd around after feeling the sting of a negative response to his world title from the British public.
While the bitter reaction he has provoked among Spanish Formula One fans can be explained by the feud he endured with Fernando Alonso through the second half of the 2007 season, his first in the top flight and one in which he missed the world title by a single point, Hamilton finds it harder to understand why he has split the affections of the British public.
Given the adoration reserved for the likes of Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and even those not to have reached the heights of world champion, like Johnny Herbert, it could have been expected that Hamilton's immediate impact on the world stage would sweep all before him - but it hasn't.
Indeed, the perception that he is arrogant and aloof - not to mention the overly jingoistic hype he has received from sections of the British media - has served to turn a proportion of the audience against the 23-year old, who this season became the youngest-ever F1 champion in a dramatic finale in Brazil. Like Jenson Button in his early F1 years, Hamilton appears
to have acquired all the playboy trappings of an individual in the fast lane - the glamorous girlfriend, the tax haven retreat and media coverage bordering on blanket among them - but he insists that he remains the same grounded individual - albeit one with mighty self-belief - that he was before his rapid ascent up the motorsport ladder.
“It saddens me sometimes that people get a different opinion of me,” Hamilton told Britain's Sunday Times
newspaper, “It's okay because I'm young and I'll be here, hopefully, for some time, because it might be a slow process, but I will do everything I can to win them over and show them that I am a true person, a normal person with good values and morals. I want to open up people's minds a little bit and let them see what I'm like.
"The people who know me know what I stand for, what kind of person I am, [but] communication is such a huge thing. Things can get mixed up, but people who know me know that my confidence and self-belief is nothing to do with arrogance. It's to do with what we needed to get here and the belief I have in my ability and the opportunity I have if I work hard. It's not 'I'm here and I'm the best and I need to do this, this and this'. I've got some gift and, as long as I hone that and work on it harder than anyone else, I'll get the most out of it."
While his outward confidence has no doubt irritated many of his detractors, his rapid flight to Switzerland, where he now lives in Geneva, also angered those who felt that he should stayed true to his British roots, if not necessarily those of his Stevenage birthplace. Hamilton, however, insists that he had more reason to leave Britain than just the ability to make the most of his vast earning potential.
"I don't take [the criticism] as negativity," he claimed, "I owe it to my country to come back here. I love my people, I love my country, I love the support, but I'm just happy where I am and you do what you do to be happy.
“This is my home, [and] Switzerland is where I live. It's very quiet, and I can walk on the streets [without being bothered]. I don't have all my friends there, which could be a distraction. Meeting up and going out in London, partying and stuff like that – I did that last year and haven't done it this year. I've been getting away and doing what I needed to do to win the world championship.”