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Hamilton `saddened` by public perception.

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.”


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Peter Josling

November 10, 2008 9:53 AM

I am frankly amazed and rather upset that apparently some sections of the media find Lewis aggresive or arrogant. I met him at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year and he gave the impression of being a really nice normal individual (contrast this with Alonso who is arrogant and Raikonnen or Kubica who are hardly good communicators). I really don''t care where Lewis lives indeed most of the F1 drivers do not live in their home country - leave him alone and for goodness sake lets celebrate our new World Champion.

-Bel -

November 10, 2008 4:12 PM

We all know there is a very thin line between confident (over or very) and arrogance. Aren't all drivers a bit arrogant in one way or another? They have to be very confident just to make it to F1 (or ride in on daddy's name, but even then they need talent). All drivers play mind games and the higher up you are on the ladder the more mind games you need to play and will be played with you. Everytime they open the mouth every words gets disected by the media to try to turn it around. Crash did it how many times this year.



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