Lewis Hamilton is refusing to look back and mull over where his challenge for the F1 2010 title went wrong - but is focussing rather on the 'very positive' atmosphere at McLaren-Mercedes that he hopes will serve to galvanise the team over the winter months so that they can come back 'even hungrier' and be 'aggressive' out-of-the-box next year in pursuit of both the drivers' and constructors' coveted crowns.

Hamilton did all that could possibly have been asked of him in last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale, qualifying on the front row of the grid - and indeed, missing pole position by a mere whisker - and then going on to harry race leader and eventual world champion Sebastian Vettel for all he was worth on race day, in what was unquestionably an inferior car.

Finding himself trapped behind Renault's Robert Kubica following his pit-stop on lap 23 arguably cost the 2008 title-winner his chance to fight for the highest step of the podium, as Vettel conversely made good his escape - but still, second place was a magnificent achievement in the circumstances and testament to Hamilton's gritty, indefatigable fighting spirit even when the odds seem impossibly stacked against him.

Had he succeeded in grabbing the top spot on the starting grid, indeed, it could very well have been the British star toasting victory in the last race of the year, and with it third place in the final standings rather than fourth - but then, as Hamilton concedes, the 'what ifs' are futile now.

"We had a great car in Abu Dhabi," he told his personal website. "It was probably the best car we'd had all season - the balance was just perfect, the car felt strong in the high and low-speed corners and the tyre degradation was good, so I felt like I could push on every lap.

"Unfortunately, I came out just behind Robert Kubica after my tyre stop, and it was just too difficult to make a pass stick around this place, even though I gave it my absolute best effort. That's not to say we got the strategy wrong - because I don't think we did - just that the Renault had incredible top speed, Robert drove a rock-solid race and the circuit layout made it really, really tricky to try and get up the inside anywhere and put my car in a place where he couldn't defend. Perhaps that's something that the designers could look at for next year, because it would make the circuit a better challenge for all the drivers.

"Once I was clear of Robert, I had the pace to match Sebastian - I just didn't have enough laps to catch him. I don't want to take anything away from him, though; he drove a faultless race and is an extremely worthy world champion.

"We saw throughout the summer that the Red Bull was the car to beat, and even though we brought a lot of developments to every race, it became clear that they were able to react equally, and that made it extremely hard for us to close the gap.

"Of course, my non-finishes at Monza and in Singapore didn't help my momentum, but that was also true of my mechanical retirements in Spain and Hungary. Overall, I don't think it's worthwhile to look at the 'what ifs' of a season, because every driver has moments when he could have done better, or would have done something different, so you just have to accept what you have and make the best of it.

"For me, it was an honour to once again be fighting for the title in the final race for the third time in my F1 career. I come away from this season having learned and developed as a driver - and I think that will stand us in good stead for next season, when I think we can be even more competitive than we were in 2010."

Indeed, Hamilton's sights are now set firmly on 2011, when he warns Red Bull Racing, Vettel and Mark Webber that they would do well not to rest on their laurels, as McLaren are 'growing all the time as a team' - and he contends that he and team-mate, compatriot and world championship-winning successor Jenson Button are just the combination the Woking-based outfit needs to wrest the sport's greatest trophies away from RBR's grasp.

"We learned a lot as a team this year - we had a very positive atmosphere within the organisation from the start of the year, and we only built on that during the season," the 25-year-old explained. "Jenson's arrival made us a stronger team, and I think our joint input helped us to stay in the hunt until the very end. Obviously, our 2010 car was quite a significant update of our '09 car, but now I think we have a very good baseline from which to evolve this car into 2011.

"We're growing all the time as a team - I had a new race engineer in 2010, and with a season under our belts now, we can be even stronger next year. I think Jenson will have a very positive influence on our development over the winter, so that we can start testing the new car very aggressively when testing resumes in February - and I think we'll be even hungrier. I want to congratulate Red Bull Racing for their 2010 season - they were a fantastic competitor, and Sebastian and Mark are both great drivers - but I know that we already have our eye on both titles in 2011."



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